Sunday, September 8, 2019

Seven Intervallic Impressions

Another piano piece, and another slow one, at that? Yep -- guess I hadn't gotten all that out of my system yet, but this one's a little different. I started with a low C and thought, "What now?" Then, "How about if I just go up in alternating minor thirds and fourths, and see what happens?" C, Eb, Ab, B, E, G, then back to C, so 6 notes. I made my way through these six notes a few times, then decided to repeat the process starting on each of the other notes, with some using the minor third first, others starting with the fourth.

But that would be only six, which wouldn't be quite right, so a seventh was added as a sort of coda, going back to C, looping through its notes just once before returning to a final C. It actually ends on a C major chord, but the spacing (both horizontal and vertical) makes it not too obvious.

The general idea had been in my head for a couple of days with none of the above details (don't ask me how that's possible; it just is), apart from starting on a single low note. I started actual work on it last Friday (Aug 16, which was last Friday when I started writing this, really!), just before midnight, and was up until about 3 AM, by which point it was pretty much done. Over the weekend, between doing other things, I tweaked it here and there; with so few notes, the treatment of each one becomes more important -- dynamics, articulation, octaves, etc. I also adjusted the barlines -- originally written out in 4/4, I wanted to more clearly delineate the sections The next couple of days I just listened to it, and yesterday made two final small tweaks (and a couple more while writing this description that is probably longer than the piece itself)..

Structurally, I - III form a group at 50 bpm, IV - VI are a second group at 80 bpm, then back to 50 for VII (coda) -- Roman numerals make them look more important on the score. Each differs in number of notes (from 7 to 36) and beats (5 to 25), and in duration (4" to 31"), but the longest doesn't have the most notes, nor does the shortest have the fewest (I almost said "least", but that would be incorrect). Although each impression contains only six different notes, there are three different sets of six (V and VI are the same sets as I and VII, just starting at different points of the rotation, as is also the case with II and IV). Three notes appear in 6 of the impressions, three appear in 5, three in only 2, and three in just one.

Also, III speeds up rhythmically in anticipation of the tempo increase starting with IV, while VI (using only chords) slows down rhythmically in anticipation of VII's return to the slower tempo. Originally titled "Seven Brief Intervallic Variations", I decided that even with the "brief" modifier, these were something less than variations, so "impressions" seemed a better description.

And now, each one has its own title -- but I'm not going to cheat and count this as seven separate pieces in an effort to help meet my 12 in a year goal:

I. Introduction (31")
II. Oh, There It Is! (10")
III. Call and Response (7")
IV. Catch It Before It Flies Away (13")
V. Don't Blink (4")
VI; Stuck in Traffic (9")
VII. Farewell (15")

If you hit the "play" button before starting to read this, it should be over by now.

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