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Composition diary for “Anthropocene” #2

Work continues on the new duo… The A1 section is now more fleshed out than it was, but I still am unsatisfied with how the material develops as it doesn’t feel natural enough. This is something that I feel is holding back the composition, as I have not written a single note for A2 because of this. I feel that I have clear enough compositional parameters, but that I am not developing them enough, or perhaps throwing to many things in the air at the same time. Would an audience (even an expert audience) be able to follow the logic in it? A lot of the different processes also never completely line up, making it sometimes feel like it is perhaps too scrambled. This brings me always back to think about Webern and Boulez… When did they understand to stop a certain process in their composition? Both composers often write in such a clear and defined matter, yet it is still chaotic and feels intuitive. I have also been reading a bit about Jonathan Harvey’s compositions and compositional processes. His music always is exactly between that line of chaotic, systematic and intuitive. I feel the A section isn’t up there yet, although it is slowly getting there.

Both B sections are finished and add a nice contrast to the A1 section, as well as the start of the C section. In the end, I found the use of Markov chains in B1-2 to be interesting, although I have intuitively changed certain aspects of it. The main difference between the two sections is that B2 has more statistical chances to get different articulations. This felt important to have a slight development in what is being played, although being clearly related.

The C section starts with an interpolation between the different rhythmic “characters” of the piece to create a sort of interlude within the piece. Both pitch-material and rhythmic material making it more related to what comes before and after. The section ends with a rather chaotic and symmetrical section based on the four different harmonic environments of the piece. The C section has always been planned as being rather chaotic, and this ending fits nicely in before B2. However, the journey between the start and end of C is still rather uncertain. I’ve been experimenting with different developments of the harmonic and melodic environments for the piece, but I’m still not completely certain. The rhythmical aspect also has to be quite present as it is both at the end and start. The original plan also shows the C section as being rather chaotic. I’m currently testing out some almost Sacre-like rhythms that are quite fun, and shifting between the different harmonic environments. This feels chaotic enough, but does it fit? Can I make the different characters and elements clear enough within this idea?

The ending of the piece is slowly becoming clearer in my mind as well, although I have yet to set it to paper or computer. It still needs some development, but I do think it is a fitting ending, or in reality a short coda. It seems so far that the piece will run at 7-8 minutes which is shorter than the planned 10 but these things can quickly change once one plays around with the material and listens to it many times.

While writing this, I’m also thinking about electronics… At this point, I hear the composition as too “full” to have any electronics. Perhaps this is a reflex since I have not had electronics since the first compositional sketches? It is either way interesting for my research questions that are part of my doctoral research. If the piece will have electronics, they would have to be rather subtle and only influence/colour certain musical elements, or perhaps amplification for the two B sections. As part of a paper I’m currently writing on string quartets with electronics, I have come to hear many different possibilities of electronics with string instruments. Sometimes the subtlest methods are those that fit best with the écriture of the piece.

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