September 26 in Xalapa @FICA21
Simple Composition is the 2nd movement of the Concertino. The 2nd & 3rd movements will be performed in Xalapa on September 26. I am very grateful to Emil Awad, Gustavo Castro, Arturo Rosas Carbajal
November 9 at SubCulture, New York City
American Modern Ensemble will do Simple Composition in its Pierrot orchestration, workshopped last Spring in Saratoga Springs.
The focus in Wuorinen's book, Simple Composition, is nesting, a fractal procedure, explored by Stravinsky & Krenek, expanded by Jonathan Dawe.
My Simple Composition is a short little work. It began as a guitar duo. It came from years of improvising over an ostinato created in composer Shoko Suzuki's 4th grade composition seminar at a New Jersey Japanese school. I've been obsessed with it, and composed a prelude and a longer movment that follows it. The final result is a Concertino for 2 guitars and strings.
Here, nesting comes through periodic phrasing:
Each 3 bar phrase is an aggregate, but the upper voice, the tune, is an 11-note aggregate over the 6-bar period. The missing note appears in measure 8, when the melodic tritone is introduced.
Regarding the tritone: hear this anonymous Spanish vilancico, from the time of Columbus
-- Oya tu merced y creo
Hear how the tritone pops out in the vii chord, early on; and then later, the double leading tone cadence doubles the local tritone count, over-foregrounding the vii! In pre-tonal and post-tonal music, the diatonic collection without the tritone (the diatonic hexachord), is very distict from collections with the tritone (which have to be subsets of the diatonic septachord).
In Wuorinen's nested focal pitches, any displacement is only as memorable as the change in the interval vector that happens in conterpoint with that displacement. Displaced focal pitches are memorable, but displaced focal pitches in concert with an interval vector twist are life changing, transformative. In Wuorinen's Cygnus, there is a deep progression as a structural chromatic tetrachord gradually morphs into its M5, the diatonic tetrachord. This ensures a meaningful interval vector progression through his nested focal pitches. This is a late Wuorinen phenomenon. I don't see it in his Sonata for Guitar and Piano.
In Simple Composition these elements fell into place very naturally, unconsciously. Living with this for many years, I decided that I had stumbled upon the most simple, Haydnesque approach to composition. I put this to use in my Barnes Settings and the Bowers-Fader Québécois settings.
Here we land on the trione transpostion of the ostinato, the big moment that is foreshadowed in measure 2; we do not get a literal transposition of the opening; we hear instead various settings of those 3 notes in measure 2:
From there the piece slithers back to where it began.
There is only one postmodernism here, perhaps: It's everything I care about 20th C. practice, but it sounds like ear candy. It sounds nothing like the music that we associate with the techniques involved.
Here's a first stab at a recording. Thanks to Daniel Conant for this:
It's all so very, very simple.
The moment that follows is less simple.