Saturday, 12 February 2011

Composition (2011): 'Seriesism'

For any ensemble (however at least seven performers are recommended, and a combination of strings and woodwind or similar sounding instruments is ideal)

There is a series of pitches: F / A / C' / E' / G' / B' / D'' / F#'' / A'' / C#''' / E''' / G#'''
* for groups of instruments in just intonation or capable of precise degrees of microtonal tuning adjustment, a pitch series based on the partials of the harmonic series may be substituted for a quite different effect.

There is also a series of durations: dotted minim / minim tied to dotted quaver / minim tied to quaver / mimim tied to semi quaver / minim / double dotted crotchet / dotted crotchet / crotchet tied to semi quaver / crotchet / dotted quaver / quaver / semi quaver
* for skilled players, a series of durations involving smaller and more complex note lengths - e.g. demi-semi-quavers and various kinds of tuplets - may be preferred

[It will be noticed that neither of these series are quite the same as those used by the mid-twentieth century serialists]

Pitches and durations should be distributed amongst the players as is felt to be appropriate.

Each player should consider four notes, whatever their length, to be their own 'bar' (so that each player conceives of a bar as of a different length to everyone else). Bars played and rested are then alternated following the pattern of the fibonacci sequence (starting with a 'bar' of rest), i.e. 1 bar rest, followed by 1 bar played, followed by 2 bars rest, followed by 3 bars played, followed by 5 bars rest, followed by 8 bars played, followed by 13 bars rest, etc.

As far as possible, each note should be played with a slow attack and a short (staccato) sustain.

If any one player finds him or herself the only sounding player for a period of 8 crotchet lengths, s/he should cease playing.

If any two players find themselves the only sounding players for a period of 16 crotchet lengths they should - on an agreed signal between them - simultaneously cease playing.

The piece ends when the whole group reaches a silence of at least four crotchet lengths.

[Please contact me in the event of any public performance of this piece]

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