As of the end of the Fall Semester at Columbia, I’ve completed two new works. The first, Currents, is scored for flute, Bb clarinet, piano, violin, and cello. The pitch material for both melodic and harmonic functions were derived spectrally, and both use microtones to provide added color to the piece as a whole. This is not a purely microtonal work, but utilizes the microtones in a natural, harmonically supportive way.
The pitches were derived by analyzing three violin harmonics, A, Ab, and C#. Each analysis showed between 4-6 prominent harmonics of the fundamental, and 2-4 prominent overtones. The harmonics were used to create three separate modes, which provides sonic stability for each section and gives interesting results through modulation.
The aesthetic approach in Currents was exploring the direction and redirection of energy through active gestures in a harmonically stable environment, or stasis in the context of a modulating harmonic world. The ideas are simple, yet I feel the execution is my most mature, clear, and artistic. Members of the Argento Chamber Ensemble read Currents in December.
Both the performers and conductor gave me excellent feedback and the piece was quite well received. A rough recording of this session will be available soon. Chicago-based group, Accessible Contemporary Music will read it as part of their weekly reading sessions this season. A link to that reading will be posted as soon as it’s available. I do have plans of revising and lengthening Currents, so it’s a work in progress, but the material assembled now works as a complete thought.
The second piece, Ananta, involves the same process in regards to spectrally derived modes, but is different from Currents in that Ananta explores one mode and is much slower paced. It is scored for toy-piano and cello and focuses on melodic development in the cello and harmonic support in the toy-piano. Conceptually, the music is quite introvertive and the challenge is establishing a balance between intro- and extroversion. Introversion being the self and expressing the individual parts and extroversion being cross-communication between the performers. Ananta received first place in the UNcaged Toy Piano Call for Works, hosted by toy-pianist Phyllis Chen. It was going to be featured on the Sounding Off Tour, but due to unforeseen conflicts was removed along with other pieces. It will be performed in the near future and a performance date will be posted as soon as it is scheduled.