10 for ’10: Bryn Harrison

I saw Bryn Harrison‘s music before I heard any of it. This was back in 2001, and he was giving a research paper at Goldsmiths College a year after I’d finished my Masters there. I’d been intellectually in thrall to the very different temporal and notational manipulations of Feldman and Ferneyhough and as Harrison presented slides of some of his recent music (from the Listenings series), in which very precise, very sparse material was rotated around asymmetrical rhythmic cycles, I saw music that stirred the two contrasts together.

Harrison’s music isn’t a cocktail recipe, but that combination of apparently opposite poles is an interesting place from which to approach it. The mix of what we might call European and American influences gives his music a feeling of both intensely structured rigour and aleatoric freedom. As he explains below, his music still involves material cycled round in asymmetric loops, but it has become considerably more dense over recent years such that the sounding surface acts as a thick, almost impenetrable skin through which details may periodically become apparent, but beneath which the full depth of activity can never truly be appreciated. The listener is cast somewhat adrift, therefore, in an aural environment that continually pulls them back and forth between highly energised structural details and an almost completely neutral surface sheen. Where Harrison is most successful is in exploiting the expressive potential of such a combination: the tension between intensive detail and strait-jacketed stasis has a melancholy grandeur, a bittersweet ebb and flow of resistance and acquiescence.

There isn’t a better piece in which to explore this tension than Harrison’s Repetitions in Extended Time. This 43-minute work was written for Ensemble Plus-Minus, who will be performing it at Kings Place this Monday, 12th April. I strongly recommend that you take up the opportunity to hear it for yourself. This piece is too big to share (although extracts are available via Harrison’s website) so here is the much smaller Quietly Rising, written for pianist Philip Thomas:

Quietly Rising, mp3

Quietly Rising, score (1 page only)

Tim Rutherford-Johnson: Composing is an anachronistic career choice for the 21st century, isn’t it? Why do you do it?

Bryn Harrison: I’m not sure that I find composing to be an anachronistic career choice. After all, there seem to be more composers now than ever before working in a multitude of musical genres. I can understand though why some people might consider sitting down at a desk and composing with pen and paper a little old fashioned but that is my preferred method of working and I find it to be the most effective way of hopefully ensuring that what comes off the page still feels vibrant and new. Composing needs to feel invigorating and stimulating and as long as the creative impetus is there I will continue to do it. I do find that it becomes more challenging as one gets older. Pushing through into newer territory becomes more difficult and it is easy to fall back on what one already knows. I am happy to adopt the position (as, say, many painters do) of working within a very limited field so that each piece does not need to feel radically different to the last, but there always has to be the feeling of the pushing myself slightly further in a particular direction. I still find it stimulating to discover things about my music that I hadn’t previously considered.

TR-J: How do you think composing, being a composer, is different now than from 20–30 years ago?

BH: Well 20–30 years ago the goal seemed to be to get a publishing deal but I don’t hear younger composers talking about that at all any more. I suppose that electronic communication has made it far easier for composers to promote and disseminate their music themselves. I think the situation is actually healthier now. There seem to be more composers working across various disciplines and enjoying the autonomy that comes from having certain creative freedoms and not feeling that one has to write for a particular group in order to get a degree of recognition.

TR-J: How important for you is it to work with performers on a new piece? And what happens when that piece is taken up by another player/group?

BH: It feels increasingly gratifying for me to work with performers who I know and respect. Over the last few years I have built up a particular working relationship with groups such as Ensemble Plus-Minus, the Norwegian group Asamisimasa and, more recently, ELISION. Essentially, this has meant that although I still adopt the standpoint of writing for the instruments themselves (rather than for the particular strengths of an individual player) I have confidence that what I’m writing will be given the level of committment that is required to really pull the piece off. I very much doubt that Repetitions in Extended Time would have been written for a group with whom I had not worked previously due to the immense amount of concentration required. Similarly, it would be difficult to envisage writing such a complex and enduring piece as Surface Forms (repeating) for a group other than ELISION. I am always interested though in the differences in perspective that arise when another group take up an existing piece. Often interpretations will be quite different and bring fresh insights to the music.

TR-J: What is musical material for you?

BH: Morton Feldman once said that he thought there was a crucial difference between having ‘ideas’ and a sense of what the material was in one’s music. I would agree with Feldman here. For me, materials are the pitches and durations that I deal with on a moment to moment basis. What I am interested in is the inter-relationships that occur between the rhythmic cycle and the melodic cycle and, in the case of ensemble pieces, the ways in which cyclical materials can be distributed or combined. Timbre and dynamics are also important but it is the projection of cyclical pitch material through time that I am principally concerned with. I try to steer away from a music that is in any way rhetorical or referential. I am interested in a music that is purely reflective/experiential and engages with our faculties of musical perception, cognition and memory.

TR-J: A lot of composition is about ways of proceeding, extending an idea in time. What sort of decisions are you dealing with as you compose?

BH: I am interested in writing a singular, monolithic kind of music that asserts a kind of objectified presence and that seems to operate in a different way to that which unfolds through time. All music, of course engages with the passing of time but we can still hold to the notion of stasis as a symbolic representation of something which, we might say, reflects a certain ideology but which, ultimately, will be superseded by the reality of dealing with a transient, temporal art form. In the past I have worked with panels of material which are presented with little or no direct development and which assert themselves as objects by being comparable to one another, and have written single movement works which change very gradually. What I have been trying to do in very recent pieces such as Surface Forms (repeating) (2009) is to present all the material as quickly as possible but to allow the listener time to then assimilate this very high level of information over a prolonged period of time. I find it fascinating how we deal with very high levels of information, especially when these ideas are presented over and over again. I’m really interested at the moment in allowing the listener to build up the musical image very slowly over a period of time through constantly revisiting the same, almost ungraspable, musical surface. In Surface Forms (repeating) there are some very literal repeats but they never feel this way because the listener is always scanning a different part of the musical surface when the same materials re-occur. In other words the music has to be cognitively constructed rather than directly perceived.

TR-J: What projects are on your desk at the moment?

BH: I’m mainly focussing on a solo classical guitar piece for Anders Forisdal (guitarist with Asamisimasa) following a commission from the Norwegian Arts Council. I have about three weeks to complete this. There are also projects in the back of my mind for Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea, the London Sinfonietta in collaboration with digital artist Tim Head, and a vocal ensemble piece for EXAUDI. So plenty to keep me busy!

TR-J: Here’s a middle C. What do you do now?

BH: C for me is as good a note to proceed from as any other but I’m particularly pleased that you picked a mid-range note! I would create a pitch cycle from the C to other contingently related pitches which eventually would return to the C only to become, once more it’s point of departure. I would then create a rhythmic cycle that was of a different length to the pitch cycle and experiment combining the two.

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10 for ’10: Timothy McCormack

Timothy McCormack (b. 1984) writes high resolution music. Music of razor sharp detail, printed on aluminium. No: not that. It is music magnified too far, so that the spaces between every RGB pixel on the screen are visible. Still no: it is both these, both micro and macro. Timothy McCormack writes music that occupies a fractal world of multiple, conflicting geometries.

It has a monolithic quality, certainly, there is no narrative pull, but it nevertheless inhabits and participates in the passage of time. The monolith is neither static in space, nor within itself. Like a body whose cells replace themselves entirely every seven years, standing on a ball of fire and shifting continents, exploding to the edge of the universe at the speed of light. It’s all a question of where you look from. And yet in all locations there are still the same universals, the same forces acting in the same ways. Hyper-activity, completely caged.

The extract above is from the opening of McCormack’s The Restoration of Objects (2008), for four strings. Although McCormack’s output is still relatively small, and some compositional preoccupations are still coming into focus, this is, for me, a very accomplished piece. The sound of four string instruments, and the striated treatment of their technique, give the whole a sonic homogeneity that belies the intensity of activity beneath the surface. Again, it all depends on where you stand. As is apparent from the interview below, questions of perception are central to how McCormack writes his music.

Disfix, which ELISION will play tomorrow night, is a slightly earlier work. Scored for bass clarinet, piccolo trumpet and trombone it doesn’t have Restoration‘s sheen. Instead, however, it has a sharper grain; the margins between parameters – breath, embouchure, fingers, tongue – are wider, the difference between instrumental timbres similarly so. It leans, therefore, to the intensity of those RGB pixels, brought bright and burning right up to the eye. This video is of ELISION’s performance of this piece at Huddersfield last year. A pdf of the score may be downloaded from the link below.

Disfix – pdf score

Tim Rutherford-Johnson: Composing is an anachronistic career choice for the 21st century, isn’t it? Why do you do it?

Timothy McCormack: There are a number of reasons why I’ve stuck with composing. When I first started seriously composing, I appreciated music’s ability to remain completely abstract and non-representational, or at least more so than other art mediums. This sentiment as been expressed many times throughout history (‘All art aspires to the condition of music’ etc. …), but it was an important early realization for me. Any mirror that music attempts to hold up to the world is a highly subjective one. Thus, I find the medium of music is more adequately described as a filter – and I find that filtering the real is more interesting than merely representing it.

Something else I find fascinating about composition is that it includes a confrontation with other artists and interpreters as a condition of its process and its completion. Meaning: my music gains its significance after having had a confrontation with a performer and listener – it does not end with the double-bar line that I write once I’m finished with the score. I view performance as a confrontation between composer, score, performer and perceiver and, in this arena, each of these forces has the ability to influence the experience. Thus, ‘the piece’ exists on many levels at once, including but not limited to: the piece as realized by the performers (taking into account their unique approach to interpreting music and the individuality of that performance); and the piece as perceived by the listener (who continues to shape their perception of the piece even after its performance has ended). I find the latter to be particularly interesting, as I think that what the listener remembers surely cannot be ‘the piece,’ but an imprint of the piece; a memory-object – something non-aural yet created from and triggered by an aural experience. The possibility of such post-musical experiences is something that my recent pieces directly address through an attempt at preemptively creating a dialogue with the perceiver’s memory and inducing a listening state in which the remembered sound is more prescribed, narrowed and in focus for the perceiver after the aural event has ended. In a way, the piece attempts to become its own self-reflexive filter, doing so to itself as would a performer and listener.

In short, I am a composer because music continues to provide objects of inquiry that I find interesting: spatiality vs. temporality; density perception; sensation; acoustics and mechanism; the performer-instrument apparatus (which I’m sure I’ll discuss later in this article). The fact that music invites the study of such divergent areas is a large reason why I continue.

Switchboard operator. Now that’s an anachronistic career.

Tim R-J: How do you think composing, being a composer, now is different from 20–30 years ago?

Tim McC: Obviously the Internet has had a huge impact on a composer’s ability to connect with performers, ensembles, listeners and other composers. But, more interestingly, I believe that the performer situation has changed in the past 20 to 30 years. It seems that more performers are getting interested in pursuing contemporary music performance at a younger age, and are engaging with it very seriously. I see more and more young performers investing a significant amount of time and employing a rather developed, advanced degree of thought into their performances and their role as contemporary music interpreters. I went to Oberlin Conservatory, which is an exclusively undergraduate school, so: students in their late teens and early twenties. There was a tremendous interest and investment in contemporary music performance practice at the school, and the students were interested and proficient enough to tackle some pretty incredible projects (I’m thinking specifically of three portrait concerts of Lachenmann as well as a fully-staged, US première of Olga Neuwirth’s opera Lost Highway). More indicative of what I’m talking about were the equally ambitious and, importantly, student-initiated solo and small chamber group projects. I use Oberlin as an example because the performers who attend are so young, but I’ve seen ambitious projects being tackled by young performers all over the place.

As a young composer, this means that the relationships I make with many of my performers become lifelong engagements, and the nature of the relationships become highly exploratory and collaborative. It is a truly special situation when both composer and performer forge such a close relationship, and develop as artists together over years. Which I suppose leads us to your next question.

Tim R-J: How important for you is it to work with performers on a new piece? And what happens when that piece is taken up by another player/group?

Tim McC: My relationship with the instruments I write for, and how I write for them, is typically a product of my personal relationship with the instruments themselves. The sound world explored in a piece is largely a consequence of the specific techniques and physical operations I myself explore with the instrument in question. That being said, working with performers is a hugely important and valuable part of my compositional process. My personal work with instruments is perhaps a testing-ground for the elements that will eventually comprise a piece of music, and it is with performers that these elements are cultivated into material able to sustain significance throughout a piece’s duration.

It is more important to me that my relationship with a performer is one that continues through multiple pieces rather than one that begins and ends with one piece. This goes equally for performers specifically for who pieces have been written as well as for performers tackling pieces not written for them. Since the basic elements of my pieces are yielded from my own private work with instruments, it is always interesting when another performer takes them on. As long as the performers or groups approaching my music do so with interest and intent, I don’t think that there can be a ‘definitive’ interpretation. The performers become mediators of the music I have written – the music bends to their personalities as artists. (Despite its apparent rigidity, my music is actually quite malleable.) Thus, ‘what happens’ when a piece is taken up by another player/group is an accumulation of significance, as it continues a dialogue between myself and the two (or more) interpretations/interpreters. In this way, the pieces I write can be seen as invitations for collaboration and discussion between myself and the performers who choose to accept them. The pieces suggest and request a long-term engagement and exploration. I believe that it is this ongoing dialogue, experimentation and collaboration with performers that takes my personal exploration of instruments from technical research to artistic endeavor.

Tim R-J: What is musical material for you?

Tim McC: Anything that I find I am able to use to circumscribe the musical territory in which a new piece may operate would be considered ‘musical material,’ even if its originally non-aural. That is, anything that suggests to me how a piece might behave (not necessarily how a piece might sound).

Though a number of forces may influence and shape a piece, it is the instrument itself, as well as the performer-instrument apparatus, that is the greatest factor in determining how a piece behaves and sounds. I view the relationship between body and instrument to be one of mediation whereby they each have the ability to articulate and actuate the other and circumscribe how each operates within the context of the other in order to create sound. The nature of this relationship has become the basis for most material in recent pieces. To narrow it even further, the actual point of contact between the body and the instrument, and the space created therein (which I conceptualize as a catastrophically violent, albeit microscopic, space), has served an increasingly more significant role as material and thus in determining both aural and behavioral aspects of the piece in progress.

Tim R-J: A lot of composition is about ways of proceeding, extending an idea in time. What sort of decisions are you dealing with as you compose?

Tim McC: How to deal with time has always been one of the most interesting and terrifying compositional issues for me. Olga Neuwirth once said to me: ‘Every second is a decision, which is a horrible thing’. Though it resonates deeply with me, I attempt to overcome this sentiment by composing a space in which the decisions I make yield multiple relationships between gestures and events. I employ a developmental and contrapuntal approach that is deliberately interested in musical events relating to other events in a multitude of ways. In doing so, the piece becomes a three-dimensional object for me, conceptually. In such an ‘object,’ I no longer need to connect events and gestures linearly or teleologically; rather, I see the temporal flow of the piece as charting a path of exploration within a spatial territory, even if that territory is highly conceptual or aestheticized. In a way, I like to think that my pieces explore the spatiality of time, and vice-versa.  To use this approach may be a decision that is made before the piece itself, but it informs how I proceed through the compositional process.

Tim R-J: What projects are on your desk at the moment?

Tim McC: I am currently working on a new voice and trumpet work for ELISION called Map of Glass, as well as a flute solo for Richard Craig. The projected ELISION première of Map of Glass is at King’s Place next November.

Tim R-J: Here’s a middle C. What do you do now?

Tim McC: There are so many forces and influences that would have to convolve before that middle C exists. I would first need to know the instrument from which it is produced. The answer to that would then suggest what physical operations the performer and instrument are engaged in. Chances are, in the end the middle C would be pulverized, and robbed of its ‘middle C-ness’. If a wind instrument produces it, the middle C would become more a fingering than a pitch, providing a mechanical ground from which god-knows what horrible sounds would be issued; if a string instrument, it would be more a hand position than anything, and the likelihood that the hand would rest upon that middle C and that the bow would rest on the string on which it exists for any significant amount of time is slim.

All that being said, what would I do now? Probably, and generally speaking: move away from it as quickly as possible.

10 for ’10: Evan Johnson

I’m more and more of the opinion that even most of those who claim to write about contemporary music aren’t actually interested in doing so: when people say ‘contemporary music’, even when they’re talking about composed/art/concert music, they mean music written 40, 50 or 60 years ago by composers who are almost all dead.

There’s plenty of room left for people to write about the major senior figures of today but really, when the world has only just caught up with Lachenmann in his 70s and while Saariaho is considered the bleeding edge of the avant garde in some quarters, it could be a while before you’re reading much about those composers currently in the vigorous maturity of their 40s or 50s.

There’s a blind spot about what ‘contemporary’ really means in classical music. This annoys me. It’s time to talk about about the real avant of the avant garde: emerging composers with massive talents who aren’t ‘bright prospects for the future’ but who are in fact contributing in original, imaginative and expressive ways to the reality of modern composition now. Those composers who are truly contemporary.

So welcome to a feature I’ve been meaning to introduce for some time. This year, 2010, I’ll be presenting 10 profiles of emerging composers who really excite me. The profiles will appear roughly one a month, and each will be connected as far as possible to a UK performance of that composer’s music. Each profile will include some downloadable goodies – score and sound – and a short interview with the composer. To keep things both interesting and consistent, I’ll be asking each composer the same set of questions (although, depending on responses I may not post all the replies here):

  • Composing is an anachronistic career choice for the 21st century, isn’t it? Why do you do it?
  • How do you think composing, being a composer, now is different from 20–30 years ago?
  • How important for you is it to work with performers on a new piece? And what happens when that piece is taken up by another player/group?
  • What is musical material for you?
  • A lot of composition is about ways of proceeding, extending an idea in time. What sort of decisions are you dealing with as you compose?
  • What projects are on your desk at the moment?
  • Finally, here’s a middle C. What do you do now?

I’m delighted to begin with a profile of the American composer Evan Johnson (b. 1980; no relative). I first encountered Evan’s music in a performance by EXAUDI of his Colophons (“That other that ich not whenne”) reflecting pool/monument. I think even then I knew that I’d not heard a surer bet than Evan’s music. It takes fearsome intelligence and a worldview that recalls the Renaissance cabinet of curiosities and combines them with a deep sensitivity to musical traditions, techniques and philosophies that are often seen as opposite, even aggressively antagonistic to one another.

Extract from Apostrophe 2 (pressing down on my sternum), 2009

At first glance, the music appears irrevocably tied to a heavy, European tradition of rich notational determination, formal complexity and hierarchy. But experience of the music in performance immediately reveals something else, something lighter, more intangible, more unpredictable, a willingness to push boundaries beyond the rational, and to do so for the sake of not knowing and of being simply interested in finding out. In the middle of Colophons the dense cobwebs of vocal writing stop, suddenly, leaving only a single, scratching tone on the violin in the air. It hangs there, precariously, for 10, 20, 30 seconds. Too long. And then the voices start again, as though nothing had happened. It’s an extraordinary moment that makes no sense at all in traditional discursive terms, yet it absolutely nails that piece for me.

Evan’s music is something like that: it carries with it an aura of irrationality and impossibility, a fantasy that almost (but, crucially, not completely) evaporates with its own expressive coming-into-being.

Londoners are in for a treat in February, then, with two concerts including pieces by Evan. The second, by pianist Mark Knoop, features Dehiscences, Lullay (‘Thou nost whider it whil turne’), 2005. The first, at King’s Place on 8th February, will see Benjamin Marks and Tristram Williams of ELISION give the first UK performance of Apostrophe 2 (pressing down on my sternum). A score extract of this piece is reproduced above; with the composer’s permission here is a short extract from the first section of the work:

Apostrophe 2, excerpt | score (pdf)

Tim Rutherford-Johnson: Composing is an anachronistic career choice for the 21st century, isn’t it? Why do you do it?

Evan Johnson: Well, it can’t be too anachronistic if there are even a few people out there who want to present and listen to the things I produce. Anachronism then becomes their problem, not mine! But – if by ‘composing’ you mean the act of writing down notated material for performance by others – yes, the whole notion may be in the process of becoming obsolete, especially now that the writing, publishing and promulgation of notated music has been thoroughly left in the dust by new technologies.

This question is particularly apt for me because I consider the writing down of music and the insistence upon its live performance as a polemical act. I believe passionately in the importance of music, and art more generally, as a framed experience removed from daily life, and in opposition to it – an opportunity to undergo a sort of perceptual and intellectual stimulation that infiltrates one’s life as an alternate narrative that promotes the possibility of the unexpected. In this sense, my work as a composer is that of a perpetual sceptic of the constant availability of music for consumption, and of the encroaching valorization of the infinitely customizable (and therefore predictable) more generally. I find that, without even intending it, I am calibrating my work more and more for live performance – through extremes of dynamics, slightly modified stagings for instrumentalists, an emphasis on musculature and breath, and other sites for musical content that don’t lend themselves particularly well to reproduction. The end result is a work that demands the sort of attention and framing that excerpts it from the rest of the audience’s experience. That, for me, is what the whole thing is about, anachronistic though I fear it may be.

 

TR-J: How important for you is it to work with performers on a new piece? And what happens when that piece is taken up by another player/group?

EJ: I haven’t had as much experience as I would like working intensively in the precompositional stage with performers, but I have been extraordinarily lucky in the past several years with the interest my work has received from performers who are both capable and enthusiastic about tackling whatever I throw at them. My music tends to exist at boundaries of difficulty, endurance and notational complexity (which not infrequently falls over into purposeful impossibility), and its appeal among performers, even new-music specialists, is understandably limited as a result. I don’t begrudge anyone that; it’s a natural consequence of the things that interest me compositionally.

TR-J: What is musical material for you?

EJ: I don’t know. Everything. Or, more specifically, its definition changes several times over the course of a particular project. I tend to start by thinking about duration, and more specifically about relations between durational ‘containers’; in other words, about proportional time structures. I have developed over recent years a strong sense of how specific proportional sets work in their particularity, and they have over time acquired for me a definite personality, the way instrumental timbres or harmonic vocabularies do. I’ve also developed a small array of transformational procedures that enable me to generate durational material on all timescales out of a limited set of basic proportional ‘ingredients’, while still preserving something of that initial personality. It’s only at that point that I will think about inserting pitches, gestures, and so forth, sometimes with the idea of emphasizing the various machinations of these proportional structures and sometimes with the aim of struggling against them.

I should add that duration for me is not at all a purely arithmetical construct; it is intimately tied to the experience of the performer and their lungs, muscles, and mental endurance. What the direct play with duration allows me to do is give certain material a sense of being ‘too long’ or ‘too brief’ not only for itself or for the listening audience, but also for the performers. Playing my recent music is always an athletic feat, which for me is absolutely fundamental to the meaning of the whole enterprise of music as a multivalent interpersonal communication. So, in a sense, ‘musical material’ for me is primarily duration and the relationship between a frame and its contents, or a figure and its ground; but at the same time it is also the sinews and lungs of the bodies on stage who are viscerally inhabiting those frames.

Finally, I insist on broadening the definition of ‘musical material’ beyond that which is heard by an audience. The end product of my work as a composer is not what is heard by the listening audience; it is the score, and the score I produce is more than merely a set of instructions for producing sound. The ideal notation, for me, is not the most ‘transparent’, the most recuperable by an ideally perceptive audience. I am much more interested in situations where there is an insuperable gap between what the performer sees, experiences, and projects and what the audience receives, because that gap is where the unexpected and spontaneous can occur. My job as a composer is not to narrow that gap as much as I can, let alone to eliminate it, but to shape it in productive and (for the performer) thought-provoking ways.

For this reason, I have an abiding interest in alternative approaches to notation, from the Cage/Feldman/Brown tradition in the US – which I consider my particular artistic ‘inheritance’ as an American composer – to Europeans like Kagel, late Nono, and (particularly) Sylvano Bussotti, and stretching back to Satie and the incomprehensible and incommunicable performance indications in his piano music.

TR-J: A lot of composition is about ways of proceeding, extending an idea in time. What sort of decisions are you dealing with as you compose?

 

EJ: There are always too many decisions; much of the time, I find the process of composition incredibly difficult, almost painful, for that reason. I don’t enjoy making up my mind!

I will say, though, that I regard the entire compositional process as a gradual accumulation of restrictions on myself, of various sorts. The initial compositional idea is a restriction in that it defines the field of inquiry, the parameters of the project I’m setting out upon in a general sense; in fact, that initial idea often comes in the explicit form of a restriction (What if this piece was limited to ____, or only did ____?). Then the imposition of restriction takes more specific form, in that a process of winnowing begins in which decisions have more and more local effects on a gradually ossifying structure. At some point – and my decision as to when this point has been reached often has a lot to do with my own perception of the success or failure of the result – I have accumulated enough materials, and the containers for those materials are small and circumscribed enough in their possibilities, that I can fill them, link them, and mould them at will into a finished result with the overall effect that I intend. At least, that’s the theory.

 

TR-J: Finally, here’s a middle C. What do you do now?

 

EJ: I have no idea how to answer this question! As I mentioned before, I’ve become thoroughly accustomed to thinking about duration, proportion, and the properties of diachronic relationships before I have any particularly concrete ideas about pitch. That isn’t to say I don’t have instinctual feelings about certain pitches and intervals; D flat and the perfect eleventh are particular favorites, which is why both are apotheosized throughout Apostrophe 1 (All communication is a form of complaint). I also have an instinctive tendency towards ‘open’, quasi-diatonic harmonies on the local scale. If I had to choose a pitch to follow that middle C, then, it would certainly have to be the F an eleventh above, probably significantly softer than the C, and perhaps with a low D flat to ground that F and give it a certain diatonic resonance and potentiality.

To give a more complete answer, though, I’d have to know (a) how long the C is held for, or at least how far away the next attack is, and (b) what relationship that duration enacts with the governing structural window …