31 January 2007

Composing Today

31 January
Not the best day composing, but also not the worst. I’ve been busy at the third section and cleaning up the opening, and the previous sections. I’m a little bit flummoxed by the direction of the piece, it slows down for a moment and then picks up again – overall the effect is not that strange in sound leading into what seems like a cadence. What I need to focus on in this next section, the viola solo is eliding out of the cadence and into the next bit, the “horn” ritornello which is slated to appear after this viola section. The additions today were relatively minor, but fill out the flute section. My thoughts are to have the viola continue through the cadence with percussion, like two measures, maybe three of a duo for the two before the entry of the other instruments. I’ve decided to build the entry in accelerating fashion. According to my chart, between the flute section and the viola section we have a change of mensuration – the whole ensemble’s tempo is ratcheted up to 5/4 of the initial tempo – from 72 to 90. So my thought is to build up the speed of this 12 measure bit from 48 (now 60) to 72 (now 90) to 90 (now 112.5) to 108 (now 135). This I think will build to a suitable climax for the return of the “horn” ritornello.
I must get ready to run off to New Jersey to run a choir rehearsal for the church I’m playing at now.



It is with great joy that I am able to return to my listening of Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672), the greatest German composer prior to Bach. I remember finding a copy of the old recording of the Symphonia Sacrae III of Bernius and dubbing. Recently, I picked up the new recording by Junghanel with Cantus Colnn and have now been able to obtain scores and so am comparing the two recordings. So far, I find the new recording to be better performed and better sounding. I'll provide commentary as it happens. Again these are notes, not analysis.

Symphonia Sacrae III:
Der Herr ist mein Hirt (SWV 398): Gorgeous. Opening salvo retuns at the end, in a ot dull way. Schutz uses word-painting delicately when it is needed and in his own way breaks up the various phrases of the psalm with different sorts of similar, yet distinct melodic phrases and phrasing. Particularly lovely is the way that he sets the phrase "und werde bleiben des hausen der Herren" Also impressive is the way he shifts between duple and triple with the triple being used for the opening and other more lyrical passages. Amazing the color he gets from these ensembles.

Ich hebe meine Augen auf zu den Bergen (SWV 399): Satisfying setting of Pslam 121. It begins with an ornamented solo for the bass later joined by the tenor and violins before what would normally be an opening sinfonia. In this way I think we have a new opening, particularly because of the dotted rhythms in the sinfonia and with this we develop particular narrative symbolic characters for the different instrumental/vocal characters - the bass and tneor become the protagonists the violins take on a holy spirit role and the choir as some sort of resounding voice of God resounding in the valleys. We can see a similar effect in Saul, Saul wa verfolgst du mich. In this way the entrance of the choir serves to amplify - in this very pictoresque way the importat points of the piece - the Lord does not slumber, etc. It ends with a full choir Amen. Beautiful.

Labels: ,

Ruth Crawford Seeger

At a certain point last year, I decided to have a look at the music of Ruth Crawford Seeger in hopes of coming to better understand this music that has been torn apart by number crunching analysts - see Straus' book - and as a bellwether of a feminist modernist aesthetic (Hisama and Tick. I also was reminded of her work in copying John Luther Adams' new piece Dark Waves which uses contrasting dynamic shaes like Crawford's quartet. I have been using Tick's volume to fill me in on the biographical details, but have avoided looking into the analysis, as I thought it would be good for me to try and do much of that myself - the Diaphonic Suites are prime ground. What follows are my notes as of today. Again, they are basic notes, not analyses or commentary even. I have not included a number of the unpublished works from Jenny Lin's recording for which scores would be very difficult to obtain. I have been able to get recodings of just about everyting with the exception of the third and fourth Diaphonic Suites which I am in the process of creating (poor) midi files of: these will be posted when the time comes.

Kaleidoscopic Changes on an Original Theme Ending with a Fugue (1924): This was utterly too long.

5 Preludes for piano (1924-25): I find these preludes to be interesting in that they often are concerned with sound, but there is too much of that Scriabin melody that lacks tension. Not my favorite. It could be me.

Adventures of Tom Thumb (1925): This way cloying. Silly figures, akin to Merry Melodies from a cartoon, perhaps that would be a better venue for them. The
accompaniment isn't descriptive so much, indeed there's a lot of oom-pahs. Fluff.

Music for Small Orchestra (1926): Seeger has discovered something between Tom Thumb and this, and I wonder what it is. The opening movement is a mass of rhythmically unrelated ostinatos, while the second is also ostinato-laden but strives for a climax. I don't get the climax in this as arising from the tension mainly, I think, because of the continual use of ostinatos - harmonically we dont move forward though we get louder. I have to look at this at the piano.

Violin Sonata (1926): There are some nice moments in this piece and she has an ear for harmmony of the Ives/Ruggles sort, but too often she falls into ostinato which breaks the forward momentum of the harmonies. Also there is a very strong homophonic tendency in the music, which I find in a number of the american "ultramodernists" almost as if the listener is supposed to think, wow these harmonies are so cool, I don't care about counterpoint.

Suite No. 1 (1927): Piano and winds in three movements, andante, slow then faster. Still a love of ostinatos. The second movement begins with a long held horn tone that remains almost throughout the whole movement. Lacking the power of theopening of the violin sonata.

American Songbag, ed Sandburg - 4 arrangements (1927):
Those Gambler's Blues (p.228): Quite lovely arrangment a far cry from the other (generally awful) arrangements that fill Sandburg's volume
Lonsome Road (p. 322): Interesting harmonization.
There Was an Old Soldier (p. 432): Dull in its corniness.
Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (p.456): Simple setting in Eb.

4 Preludes for piano (1927-1928):

Suite No. 2 (1929): Relevatory for her earlier works. Here is counterpoint! And good counterpoint at that. There are interesting gestures, romantic in an angular way. Passionate, but not overwhelming.

Five Songs (Sandburg) (1929): Not particularly good or memorable.

Three CHants (1930): These are interersting. She seems to have found a sound of sorts. Chords shifting, dissonant melodies. Still ostinatos and repetitions, but an interesting sound.

Study in Mixed Accents (1930): In octaves throughout with different groupings of the steady 16ths - this is what creates the mixed accents.

Three Songs (Carl Sandburg) (1930-1932): Here is Seeger at her strongest. Some excellent songs, with powerful motives and chiseled features. Not that lollygagging Tom Thumb bs. They consist of:
Rat Riddles (1930): Looking at the scores I get a real sense of the other works around this time as being studies for the materials in these songs for instance, consider the oboe line of the second song, I haven't deternmined its construction mainly owing to the near falling apart of the copy of the score I was able to obtain, but it sounds and looks a lot like the material I've seen in the diaphonic suites. Also the third song, and some of the second song, the melodic material is really related to the Study in Mixed Accents. The second song is perhas the most powerful with its oboe in 5/4 sixteenths, its piano in quintuplet eights divided by a quarter rest and the powerful pounding soprano who moves up in range starting on an anvil strike G#. The ostinato group adds a strange effect, one I'd like to reflect on again after hearing the piece a second time. A powerful memorable work, that should be more played.
In Tall Grass (1932):
Prayers of Steel (1933): Tick says the oboe has a seven pitch row in rotation and the wind ostinatos have 1 through 7 beats of rest increasing and decreasing. Tick also notes a seven note accent pattern in the oboe part

Two Ricercari (Sacco, Vanzetti; Chinaman, Laundryman) (1932): One of her last published works for some time, these are two setting of H.T. Tsang for voice and piano. Of the two, I think Chinaman, Laundryman is the better work. Both have an over-the-top 1930s leftist rhetoric, with Sacco, Vanzetti speaking of the death of our martyrs and the like. Sacco, Vanzetti makes use of chords against a more rallying vocal line, while Chinaman, Laundryman throughout does a complicated 3 against 4 in the accompaniment versus the vocal line. This polyrhythm does not stop Crawford Seeger from using intricate rhythms within it, quintuplets and the like make an appearance. I imagine the effect is to sort of free up the voice from singing, indeed the vocal lines are singable in a traditional sense and often cal for speaking, which she notates with small arrows in place of noteheads. The performance from Sachs' Naxos album is not very good, as the singer lacks some strength.

Labels: ,

Xenakis: Keren

Keren (1986): Solo trombone work. In the vein of many of Xenakis' other solo works, particualrly in its almost modal-character and later in the repeated note values of an almost Baroque type-solo. Like Kottos and like Embellie this too uses this device and again like these works seems to focus around the pitches B. It seems to ramble a bit. Xenakis has a nice use of a singing playing flutter noise that appears in the low register and peeks out as sort of a verse divider before flourishing and being developed at the end. Keren is from Hebrew for Horn. Interesting that Xenakis would turn to Hebrew titles. I think probably he is seeing some connection with the ritualistic-ness of the language in much the same way as ancient Greek. Consider, too, that Stravisnky's most ritualistic pieces used ancient languages - Oedipus, Threni in Latin and Abraham and Isaac in Hebrew.

Labels: ,

30 January 2007

Composing Today

30 January 2007

Made some good progress on the third section with the flute solo. The solo is written out and some, at least half of the accompaniment. There are some nice ensembles that are brought about by the switch of the piano into the flute’s role in this section: Bass, Horn, Trumpet; Trombone, Clarinet, Violin; Percussion, Viola, Cello; and Piano, Oboe, Bassoon. I’ve given the Piano ensemble tiny notes widely spaced and slow with the oboe and bassoon holding these out. In the violin trio, I’ve taken the tremolos within the flute part and split the difference to create the three lines, the trombone provides a nice foundation. I was talking with David Cohen yesterday and he made a comment about how in the large ensemble you can have such a play of instrumental colors and I think the ensemble change rotation did this to a certain extent. To provide more colors in the trio, I think the solo substitution rule is a good one. To wit, it takes the solo instrument for each section – solo is a relative term – and has it replace the new soloist in the instrument rotation. So for instance, the first soloist was the percussion, so in the second section, the percussion takes the place of the next soloist in the instrumental numbering. In the second section our soloist is the piano (#9) so the percussion becomes #9 for the remainder of the piece. The piano when it reenters the traffic patterns of the instrumental rotation replaces the next soloist in this case the flute (#1) for the remainder of the piece. The flute will replace the next soloist, I’m leaning toward the viola (#10). Within each section, I’ve been laying out the entrances/exits of the soloists vaguely intuitively, thinking of the narrative of the section. In the third section we’ve had a tempo merge and the normative tempo is now the quarter-note at 72. I’m also leaving the choice of soloists up to intuition – though as the piece progresses my choices will be more limited.


Xenakis: Thallein

Thallein (1984): For Fourteen instruments. Again enigmatic - dull, thin beginning half, that then becomes a rather perky strange melody ala Varese with sme nice sort of planing of the ensemble - that is the various sections play off against each other, almost as if they were unaware of each other ending in string glissandos. It almost feels like Xenakis was fishing around for something to write and then came upon something. The title means "to sprout." I could be taken aback by the poor quality of the Neuma recording, I recall hearing a performance a long time ago with the Callithumpian Consort at NEC that was riveting. I am however still impressed with Xenakis' idiomatic, yet novel writing for percussion, the use of the toms, bongos and wood blocks are well gradiated and dramatically sensitive.

Labels: ,

29 January 2007

Composing Today

29 January 2007

Worked out the second section today and I’m rather pleased with it. The percussion has moved from wood sonorities to membrane sonorities – in this case, I’ve got a bass drum, two congas and a bongo. Perhaps I should consider a tighter headed drum than the bass drum. I was thinking today about the tension that results from what is a very complicated structure whose surface details are remarkably free compositionally. In some cases the rules laid down by the structure are ignored by the instruments or only followed slightly throughout. There are tempo layers, but this is not an early Nono strict mapping, instead it’s a rule that in practice is avoided. Consider again the chaotic streets of a third-world city. There are traffic rules, it is only that the rules are avoided or else there are so many conditional to the rules that they are effectively not rules at all. Perhaps then the conflict between the rules ad the instruments choosing to follow them or not is another aspect of this piece, though I don’t think its an aspect that can have much narrative import. Rather, the simple fact that the structure has been prepared makes adherence to it itself a narrative element and vice versa. I recall how Schoenberg was asked about notes that didn’t match up with his rows and he accepted the “wrong” notes as the “right” notes, not for a narrative sense – as in this anomaly is a key to a structurally important moment – but rather in the play of inspiration inside the work.


Copland Listening

At a certain point, I felt I would discover the music of Aaron Copland. I had known but a little of it, and knew him as a respected, and essentially enjoyable, composer - and had as one of my first CDs a recording of his Lincoln Portrait, Quiet City and Our Town Suite under Abravanel. I also found his music to be difficult to teach and wanted to see if through learning more about him, I would be able to better teach his music. I began listening, as per usual, to everything he wrote. As a companion, I used Neil Butterworth's Music of Aaron Copland an essentially descriptive catalog of the compositions laid out in roughly chronological order. I began taking notes on the music relatively recently. Again, the notes are simply impressions.

In the Beginning (1947): This is one of Copland's lesser works, though he doesn't have much for choir. It goes on too long, it seems forced, especially in the "fast" central section and it is a bit too obvious - note the pesante on the part where God makes man. It sounds very Disney and not in a good way.

Midsummer Nocturne (1947/1977): Relatively forgetable minor piano piece of Copland. Uses the two melodies in the piano stratification that is common in Copland piano music (I'm thinking of the arrangement of the theme of Our Town). Shame all of Copland's piano music is either portentious (the large scale pieces) or trite.

The Red Pony (incidental music) (1948): His music for the film really made the film come alive. Copland is in reality, it seems a very competent film composer. If we think his non-programmatic works seems academic or portentious while his ballets and film music is glorious. Also of note is the use of some folk songs that later show up in the Old American Songs - the Golden Willow Ballad for example. Also some things derivative of moments from Rodeo as well.

Preamble for a Solemn Occasion (1949): For the UN opening. Big chords, large leaps, setting up to the spoken preamble of the UN Charter, before settling in to more of the beginning. Lacking the charm of the tender Copland.

Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson (1949-1950): Spectacular settings of Dickinson. Its clear why this is a classic.

Old American Songs, Set 1 (1950): Lovely,of course, though I've always found the Boatman's dance and the I Bought me a Cat to be cloying. Copland is really embracing his Americana roots, I wonder the circumstances for this. The setting of Simple Gifts is quite different from the glorious ecstatic setting in Appalachian Spring. The recording I have with William Warfield is quite good.

Quartet for Piano and Strings (1950): A twelve-tone work by Copland, with a taut opening movement. He manages to be Copland with the technique, seems like he is trying to prove himself however as a "serious" composer.

Old American Songs, Set 2 (1952): Lovely arrangements. Less stiff than Set One, but this could be my familiarity.

The Tender Land (1952-1954): No doubt Copland failed with this opera, there is a lot going on that is unnecessary. He cuts it down seriously for the recording I have. Much of its problem is truly with the libretto, unnecessary extra storyline. Though there is much beuatiful music, particularly the Act One closer: "The Promise of Living" set to "The Praises of Zion" and which glorifies working - a communist work n o doubt.

Dirge in Woods (1954): A small and rather nice setting for high voice and piano that Copland wrote for the fiftieth anniversary of Boulanger's teaching - I was unable to get a recording. The piece alternates between astringent major-minor harmonies and a more pentatonic feel. Worth hearing.

Canticle of Freedom (1955): Large-scale choral work with orchestra. It has an enormous instrumental introduction before the choru enters singing the words of a 13th century Scots poet extolling the virtues of "freedom" It seems to be in the mass-song type style with unison lines and stirring sentiments. The orchestra constantly gives out this "Lombard" snap type rhythm in augmentation which later turns out to be the rhythm of the word "freedom" so in essence the whole work is saturated with this sentiment. Interesting to note that the same gesture is used often in the Lincoln Portrait. There are many similarities between the two - the long introduction as well. Also of note is what sort of freedom copland is refering to and here it is freedom from bondage to the land in the sense of serfdom. Not the most interesting of good piece - also some strange orchestrational choices particularly in some of the percussion use - the woodblocks, for instance as well as giving some lines to the flutes which are drowned out against the brass.

Piano Fantasy (1955-1957): Half-hour work for piano composed to the memory of the pianist William Kapell who died in a plane crash in 1953. Ruminative, serious, deeply-felt piece - I know that "Deeply-felt" is a ridiculous term, but the work sounds that way. Nevertheless one can hear clear structural sections and proportions, one gets the sense that Copland had planned out when things would happen and how they would happen. We know from the beginning that the opening chords and gestures will return at the end, it's inevitable and they do - twice. The second time they notes become signs of bells, funeral bells perhaps and the listener reflectively changes a conception of the work to an almost narrative celebration of Kapell. Which seems in a way fitting for this improvisatory in style accompaniment to a film that doesn't exist. In the more proclamatory style of Copland, and as such is informed by twelve-tone technique if not twelve-tone - Copland says he uses a ten-tone row with the remaining two tones functioning as a cadential axis. Captivating throughout. In a way one can see this in line with the modernist works of the 1930s the Piano Variations, for instance. Crist has shown that this progressive tendency ties in with an ideal of populism, though I don't recall if she speaks of the Variaitions or Fantasy specifically. However, if we consider, Copland's use of serialism, one could easily put it in league with taking these progressive techniques and allying them with a simpler language in order to help move a populist audience toward a "greater" modernism, allowing in a sense an Ivesian idea of using challenging techniques, harmonies, etc to allow music to fulfill its ethical function of uplifiting the people to new piritual heights.

Labels: ,

27 January 2007

Brahms Listening

I have been doing some listening to Brahms. Once again, these are simply notes, with a composer like Brahms one needs to devote a lot of time to study the devices used and wat makes the music work so well. These notes do not attempt in any way to do this. I have been using Botstein's volume "The Compleat Brahms" as a resouce on all the works. It is comprehensive, interesting and well done. My notes as of today follow:

Opus 28: Four Duets for Alto and Baritone with Piano (1863): Some of these were really quite nice. Particularly the first and the third. In the first it is an inexorable harmonic progression and drama that make the dull ballad form become exciting. In the third, I'm particularly pleased with the shifts between 4/4 and 6/4 that he pulls off so nicely: you can hear the stratching of the phrase. Quite beautiful.

Opus 27: The Thirteenth Psalm (1864): Relatively minor work for women's choir. The organ part flies by which makes me not feel the gravity of the psalm.

Opus 30: Geistliches Lied - Spiritual Song for Four-voice Chorus with Organ or Piano (1864): It seems to me that Brahms is trying to make too much out of these essentially liturgical motets. In short, the first begins with a chorale and then uses each phrase of the chorale as a fugue subject. It becomes a little pedantic. The second, a setting of "Create in me a clean heart" has several imitative passages after a homophonic opening. The first, is too eighth-notey and the tension isn't worked well in that there is little or no rhythmic differentiation between the layers. I feel like Brahms had just received a volume of the Bach edition and wanted to try some fugal stuff, or else was trying to train his choir to do bigger and better things.

Opus 31: Three Quartets for Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass and Piano (1864): In these pieces we can clearly see the dictum that Brahms' music is best understood through dance. All three are stylized dances (similar in some respects to the other vocal quartets- the Liebeslieder) The first particularly lovely with the interlocking of two minuets, graceful, stylized. Deserves to be more often heard.

WOO: Fugue in A Flat minor (1864): The fugue is clearly Brahms trying to out-Bach Bach. Who would think to write a fugue in Ab minor, such a nasty key, he modulates to B minor at some point, likely its enharmonic for the even nastier Cb minor third relation. The theme is a few sighing things. Eventually it becomes a chorale at the end. If I'm not mistaken it is the classic Christ lag in Todesbanded.

WOO: 14 German Folksongs for mixed Chorus (1864): All the old favories make another appearance.

Opus 33: Romanzen (Magalone-Lieder) - Romances (Magelone Songs) for Voice and Piano (1865/1869): This is said to be Brahms closest approximation to a song-cycle: various poems taken from a volume by Tieck that interrupt(?) a German medieval story about a man in love, captured by Moors, etc. There is some exceelent imagery and some quite nice songs - I'm thinking especally of the wave imagery and some of the later songs. Brahms has used the free ballad-style form in which he is able to switch imagery depending on the mood of the song. We also get a sene o the Schubertian plan of having the accompaniment fulfill the mood of the song. All in all, I don't think the work succeeds as a cycle - dramatically its rather weak. I also find that some of the songs are over-accompanied. #12, however is quite gorgeous.

Opus 37: Drei Geistliche Chöre - Three Spiritual Choruses for Women's Chorus a cappella (1865): Three quite lovely choruses for women's choir. The first, exquisite: O Bone Jesu, the second a glorious canonic Adoramus ending with a homophonic declaration on Domine, miserere nobis - similar in effect to Josquin's famous Ave Maria. The third, not my favorite, a Rgina Coeli with two solo voices and a choir interupting with Alleluia. Beller-Mckenna makes a very interesting point in his discussion about Brahms' use of historicist procedures, in thius case the canon. Brahms' desire to learn these was in now way Romantic - that is because of the trappings of sirituality that these would symbolize, instead his use of the techniques is purely to gain skill in craft, the early music works that he studied, it is said these were composed while Brahms was studying Palestrina, appear not as spiritual gems, but rather as homes of technique. In this method of study - the non-Romanticizing, Brahms becomes truly a modernist. I can agree with this completely - these works are truly honest, truly Brahmsian, though they use early-music contrapuntal devices.

Labels: ,

Xenakis: Khal Perr

Khal Perr (1983): For Brass Quintet (2 tr, tbn, hn, tuba) and percussion. An enigmatic piece only in that the tempo marings are remarkably slow for Xenakis. There are many times when we come on a very static harmony that we stay with for some time. In these sections we can really hear the way the tuba bass notes control the harmony - a change in pitch is signaled by a tattoo on the bongos. It also has a "traditional" Xenakis brass entry - single pitches like an announcement entry, compare Ais or A Colone for instance.

Labels: ,

26 January 2007

composing today

26 January 2007
Again my intention was to flush out the second section with the piano lead. Instead, again I got caught in cleaning up some of the earlier material as well as parts of the piano transition which I think works well now. I continued the piano section to its conclusion, that is, the beginning of what will be the next section, and laid out the location for the various mini-trios, they are only about three measures each, in order to get a sense of what the dramatic flow of this 10 or so measures. We’re at about the 2:30 point, maybe one fourth of the way through the piece. I think I need to take down the density some in the next section as it is still remarkably dense. I think perhaps I can do this with some longer melodic lines rather than the fanfare-type lines I’ve been working with. I added a smidge of heterophony with the clarinet relating to the piano, which I haven’t been able to enter yet to hear it. All in all, I’m much more pleased with the piece than I was about a week ago. I hope to have by the end of the month reached at least the beginning of the fourth section – the one-third point.


Xenakis: Pour la Paix

Pour la Paix (1981): A radiophonic piece for electronics, speakers, and eight-voice choir. The story, by Xenakis' wife tell sabout two soldiers in enemy camps who sneak off together to recall boyhood and hang out diving in a lake. This is an interesting piece particularly in the way that many of the Xenakis effects become contexualized by the narrative that surrounds them. So whereas we hear the frequency running that is so present in the beginning of Tetras, and here it has the sense of radios searching for a frequency. We hear the glissandi and it becomes waves and water. In effect, these sound abstractions are twisted in the listener to become more concrete ideas - perhpas this is the funciton of their abstraction. However, when we take them all as a whole the fact that they are so suited to war, makes me believe more that these light tracings, these glissandi sires, these radio fiddlings, these random percussive blasts are war sounds. I recall when Boornstein asks Xenakis about the influence o the war on his music, Xenakis ignores the question entirely. I think the piece works fine as a radio play, unlike Harley, though I might have liked a more contrapuntal treatment of the sounds and the narration. The choral moments are not among his most inspired but fit with the sense of the play for the most part.

Labels: ,

25 January 2007

Composing today

25 January 2007
My intention today was to compose out the second section with the piano solo, but instead I ended up spending a good deal of time decorating out the opening horn section which now is actually quite wild. The static harmonies allowed me to add in a number of melodic lines and articulations of the harmony without disrupting the overall claustrophobic flow of the section. In face it gives it a lot more momentum. I’ve eliminated a number of the percussion “breaks” – there were a few measures of solo percussion in favor of keeping the energy full throughout. In a sense the end result now is something like the end of Ameriques by Varese. It also, I think, makes a better transition to the next section in which everyone is trying to fight for their space. There is now one measure of percussion and piano solo instead of the one measure of silence that was there before. In this way the second section seems to flow from the initial “horns” rather than being something separate. It also makes it quite powerful when it cleans out at the end of the first section. There is something ecstatic about the opening section that I am rather pleased with – an ecstatic-ness borne of chaos and noise, which I think is much in keeping with the metaphor of traffic that is guiding the composition. I remember on those crazy streets of Varanasi just at a certain point taking an almost perverse delight in the cacophony of the streets, it is that moment when one gives in to the craziness and at the same time could care less about the craziness that things start to click. I feel a certain sense of this as well in this piece. The opening forces the listener to “give in” to the sound. I had for a moment thought of having some sort of striving type opening to the piece in the manner of Suntreader of Ruggles, but while certain melodic lines have that sort of feel – in the piano as mentioned in yesterday’s entry, I opted against opening the piece as such. We can work toward the unity rather than have it given to us at the beginning.


Xenakis - Tetras

Tetras (1983): String Quartet. I have mixed feelings about Tetras. On the one hand it seems quite uneven with its cumulative glissandi in all instruments that sound like dull fiddling with an ondes martenot, and I kind of think that this sort of sound was desired. It becomes tiresome and pointless like fiddling with the dial. However, when the multiple glissandi are combined with rhythmic articulations as they are at the end of the work it becomes powerful and exciting. The Jonchaies non-octave replicating scale makes an appearance again, and again in a formulaic way, simply up and down articulations of the scale, whether quite quickly or more slowly. Again with this sort of scalar use there is no tension, no need for one note to follow the other. However, when he uses it harmonically, again mixed with a rhythm - as in the section of the work where all in struments are playing polyrhythmic double-stops, as is done in Dikhthas, it becomes a shimmering, well perhaps not shimmering, but alive surface. He utilizes several noise elements, not integrated so much, but appearing at the beginning and the end almost symmetrically in the structure as well as a section of the graphic notation - derived from Psappha and later used as it is here, in Mists. Once again, it doesn't free up the rhythm so much and the harmonic tension is lost. So ultimately I'm feeling a lack of direction in the piece, sound-wise, structurally and harmonically.

Labels: ,

24 January 2007

Composing again

Today began work on the second section – after adding in the final bit of the first section, the percussion. The idea is that after the initial outburst of everyone I wanted to thin down, fortuitously it turned out that way before a varied shot of the horn motive and then have the piano take the solo role in the second section. When I say solo, I don’t mean in a traditional homophonic sense. Rather, what I envision is as en ensemble of its own tat the others are forced to interact with. The percussion took that in the first section. So now the percussion replaces the piano in the ensemble numbering scheme. Presumably I should then keep the percussion at that number until it is replaced – so in the third section the piano will replace the instrument that takes over the solo part, I’m thinking now that the next solo will go to the piccolo/flute. The sextuplet tempo layer has been eliminated. Tomorrow I will work around the piano solo to build the various trios/quartets for this second section.
My feeling on the material in this section are long arching, crusty lines, some of which develop from the viola/cello material of section 1.


Xenakis Listening Notes

What follows are various listening notes for works by Xenakis. This takes the notes up to their current state. New notes will be added as necessary. I have listened to all the previous pieces, but have not taken notes. This may change.

Noomena (1974): I found this piece not particularly memorable save for a few moments. One feeling I felt with this and with a Nono piece I also listened to is that these composers are tending to write the same piece over and over. In this case it was a lot of scratching and glissandi in the winds and the strings but without any real sense of comprehensible form that can be found in some of the other works, I'm thinking of Synaphai with its great ending. One nice thing was the foghorn like effect about 5 minutes into the piece. I'd be interested to see how that comes about.

Erikhthon (1974):Erikhthon is a powerful massive work for piano and orchestra. Like glaciers crashing or worlds being moved. It is unstoppable, massive and calamatous. This is said to be the best example of the use of arborescences laid out in vaguely organ-like orchestration. Where these really work is in the larger scale glissandis and in this case some of the harmonies developed, where they don't work is in the chromatic scales that can whip across and seem so dull and devoid of tension. This piece is full of tension and it works magnificently.

Psappha (1975): Psappha for solo percussion. Xenakis eschews traditional notation for a Feldman-esque box. That doesn't stop him from being rhythmic - this is one of his most rhythmic pieces I've heard. One can hear some glorious polyrhythms - and no doubt Xenakis was aware of some traditional drumming. I'm also quite impressed by the use of sonorities and the way that he brings them in at specific moments. One could easily not do such a thing. Seems like a challenging work and would likely benfit from being taken out of the non-traditional notation and into traditional. I don't think it would lose very much.

N'Shima (1975):N'shima for two peasant style voices, horns and a cello. In regular strophes - a formal pattern that Xenakis likes with his "antique" pieces - consider the choral work "A Colone" The cello has an almost mystical esoteric function capping the ends of each section with a wide erase of the musical space. The voices keen around small notes and the horns also. Memorable moments include when we finally hear a solid harmony and the overall effect. Details don't remain from this piece rather the overall. we can also hear well the arborescences. Other moments the move toward machine gunning at the end. Xenakis likes to give something new near the end of the piece. This one is no exception.

Empreintes (1975): A striking, enigmatic and ultimately somewhat sad piece for orchestra. Essentially there are three ideas - the first unison treble G for nearly 5 minutes we can hear the delightful overtones as the ful complement of brass play it in the beginning. Overlaid on this at times are varied glissandos in the strings which eventuly take over the entire ensemble reminiscent of early Xenakis - e.g. Metastasis. This eventually splits into a more chaotic section until we end with a series of morse code like gestures from various choirs over clusters. The work ends with the sound of the low Bb on the Contrabassoon. I'm not sure how to react. Technically Xenakis has learned how to better handle glissandi on the brass which sound much les coarse when the are used to fill out certain points in the curve rather than all points in the curve. This also provides a harmonic gambit as well. I come out feeling like there has been a narrative and that the world was shattered and we are left with these tiny phrases trying to peek through. Xenakis himself talks of the imprints left after the setting of the sun - comparing the opening detuning of the G to the sunset.

Theraps (1975): Solo bass piece full of sliding around. Apparently a major step in the repertoire for solo bass, which honestly isn't saying much if you consider the competition. Bottesini anyone?

Khoai (1976): Work for solo harpsichord that makes the noisyness of the harpsichord particularly apparent. It also makes good use of octave particularly in the beginning. I have to say I don't think octave Fs have ever sounded so good as when Chojnaka plays them. Another piece in which the arborescences work. What is a real benefit about this piec eis the way that it completely reinvigorates the harpsichord in a way that perhaps would't happen again until Ligeti's Continuum. In both these works the harpsichord is viewed as an almost electronic instrument - consider also the way both composers view the organ - completely denatured of human expression (why did Stravisnky never write for the organ?) Xenakis was quite busy at this time. I'm convicned there was something in composing with arborescences that made it easy for him to be prolific.

Mikka "S" (1976): The second of Xenakis' double gliss pieces for solo violin and perhaps somewhat more effective. This one seems to have more contrary motion than Mikka. It seems a trifle, if perhaps an important trifle in developing this technique, which seems to me to be a way to make the glissandos work on a smaller scale. at this point glissandos have been scientificized once again into arborescences. Consider the small arborescence works against something large like Erikhtohon which is massive and moving - the same massiveness cannot be found in the smaller works and a new direction must be found.

Dmaathen (1976): Classic work for oboe and percussion. Can hear a real pitch centeredness that moves out and a real sense of the multiphonic possibilities of the oboe. What is strange is that no one has remarked on the similarity to Muay Thai music, the only traditional music I'm aware of that makes use of the combination. The opening is almost uncannily like the sound of Muay Thai and I have no doubt that the influence is there. Consider also in Nuits, the choral work, there is no mention of the almost near duplication of the famous Monkey dance from Bali which shows up notated in Xenakis. I don't believe that I can accept the notion that all these things are purely scientific, rather I'd suggest that the sounds that he was aware of become filtered through his scientific frame and his own language. I'm not aware of earlier instances (before Nuits) of the rat-a-tat style that would become more prominent - tough no doubt one could include machine gun fire in the influence pool.

Epei (1976): horn, english horn, clarinet, 2 trom, db. Strange strange ensemble, strange title - it means "since" and stranger piece. A keening Xenakis. It begins with this strange degraded version of a motive - could this be Xenakis referring to Grisey's classic use of the degraded harmonic series - I think these were written at the same time - that eventually alls into a keening of all the instruments that lasts quite some time an is in the end effective and memorable. though I have to say, I'm afraid I may be confusing it with Akanthos whose ensemble is similar.

Windungen (1976): I was only able to listen to the first minute of this and then continue by looking a the score of this work for 12 cellists. It appears to be a strong piece with some of the classic large cello nsemble gesture - cf Messagesquisse - of lots of cellos playing the same melody that gets brokn up. The idea is that the cellists are arranged in a circle which Xenakis takes full advantage of - a large portion of the work seems to involve motion of glissandi around the circle which would no doubt sound really good if one were in the middle of the circle. There is also a rather dramatic moment when we are left with just one cello playing low C#. I'd be interested to hear a performance.

Kottos (1977): Excellent work for solo cello. The proportions are right on this. Particular favorite moments are when the cello is in a constant use of all of its registers. The melodies - quasi-Greek sometimes are also sometimes Baroque though up in a completely crazy register - consider the end when there is the movement round an E center at the top of the treble staff. Also nice how Xenakis uses noise in the work having the noise of the bridge open up into melodies.

Legende d'Eer (1977): Electronics. A have a hard time with these large Xeankis electronic pieces as I tend to do with most electronic pieces, I'm never quite sure how to grasp them though I do hear larger sweeps I get lost in the details. This work seems to me to be more of a soundscape than something like Kraanerg or Persepolis which if memory serves me make more use of the repeating note idea. This also uses repeating notes but way up in the highest ranges at the beginning of the work. Ultimately, I hear this similar to something like Conrete PH with its burning sounds - it is full of seemingly natural sounds, whether like cicadas, or tectonics or an overall dinosaur type sound. This is a piece that creates another world and one that for the most part isn't entirely unpleasant. - I'd rather be here than in Kraanerg. I hear an overall descent in range then an ascent curve, but would need many repeated listenings to get details.

Akanthos (1977): Slightly larger ensemble - fl, cl, piano, soprano, string quintet. Needs a fabulous soprano who doesn't seem foolish sining nonsense phonemes. This, if I rememebr right was a work wose arborescences seemed forced, too much chromaticism.

A Helene (1977): For two part choir - can be transposed at will. A syllabic setting of some ancient Greek play - Harley says from Euripides' Helen of Troy. Set in almost constant eighth notes and homophonically. At the end a dramatic shift happens in the tonality. I think about the use of rhythm here and how, likely, at least from what I remember, ancient Greek theories of rhythm had a different sense of versification, though I could be confusing it with Latin verse. Also, I'm reminded of the almost arbitrariness of the note hoice, which seems in some ways fitting wth a stochastic idea. Not nearly as good as A Colone.

A Colone (1977): I'm very much enthused by this choral work in the ancient Greek modes, though in some senses itfeels like Xenakis moved toward the Syntonic diatonic of Ptolemy. One can see how he would be excited by the Aristoxenan genera and there is always the idea of authenticity - notice that the work is scored for men's voices in falsetto as ancient Greek drama was said to be sung. There are the strophe-antistophe pattern in structure. Also the instrumentation, trombone, horn and doublebass is spectacular and add an air of modernity and antiquty. The trombone part is quite high. Challenging, but I would not say too much so.

Jonchaies (1977): Large orchestra work, extremely violent. Up there I would say with Ameriques and the end of the Rite as some of the more overall intense primitive sounding scores. This is a war piece for me - conflict, perhaps is better put and is almost impressionistic, if it ould be used to describe such scenes, the sirens in the high winds, the keening of the brass, the incessant percussion and the machinistic rhythms of the full orchestra. The ending bomb blasts, reminiscent as well of the end of Terretekhtorh. It ends with the morse-code in the piccolos which are used also in the opening of the Legende and the ending of Empreintes. Commentators tend to focus on the new uses of sieves to a) make a scale that doesn't replicate at the octave, and b) to determine the rhythmic content. I find these far less interesting than the overall formal content which is continually powerful and constant. According to Harley: "jonchaies" = "rushes, reeds" I'm also reminded of the out-Lutoslawski-ing in the opening modal sieve moving from the highest registers down to the subbasement.Harley also dwells on the connection between the pitch sieve and the pelog scale of interlocking fourths (C-G, B-F#) detecting an Indonesian flavor in the work because of a similar lack of certian intervals in the Jonchaies sieve, to which I ask, is he listening to the same piece. There is nothing, repeat, nothing gamelan in this work. I think the idea of the sieve is not to create scales but rather in fact to pick out parts of a glissandi contour for harmonic purposes. Harley seems to be hearing what he wants in this piece. He speaks of Xenakis "emulating such a sonority" He also hears the winds rushing through the reeds, I think rather it i ironic, after all this torture of sound we are left with the desolation of the wind rushing through reeds - symbolized with the high piccolos.

Ikhoor (1978): String trio that seems to take all of the Xenakis ideas and put them in as if he is freely compsoing with them. In this way Xenakis is an experiementor - building up his bag of tricks and then with his language compsing. I think there is an effective use of the pelog scale with the Lutoslawski heterophony. But overall I don't think its all that compeling of a piece, though I imagine the physical act of seeing all these players sawing away would be rather interesting. "Ikhoor" is what runs through the veins of the Gods. Opening consists of a rite of spring-esque chord that quickly falls into challenging rhythmic strata. Unfortunately the melodic material doesn't really match with the tension generatred from the rhythms.

Dikhthas (1979): Violin and Piano - arborescences in both parts enlived at times with stochastic texture - there is a particularly memorable moment in th epiano part which is well nigh unplayable and that basically gives the sense of one throwing one's fingers around the keyboard. It is interesting to see how the various techniques are coming together in the pieces, in this case the specifically violin textures from Mikka and Mikka "S" along with the arborescences. I think sme of the most effective moments are when things stp completely and we have just a single note, in this case an open D that is sounded thoughout the piano and then violin - getting dirtier through the addition of surrounding tones, what is a simple thing for a composer to do when they are shot on ideas becomes a great idea when put in this context. The wave motion of the violin throughout its range can become a bit too much and one can see how it could be a hackneyed crutch.

Pleiades (1978): I listened to this over the course of two days. It seems to me that this is a piece that ayone writing or percussion ensemble needs to reckon with. Four sections each devoted to a specific sonority and each exploiting the characteristics of that sonority. In all the movements there seems to be a dichotomy between highly structured rhythms and "Clouds" of sound - the highly organized random sounds that evoke distant rumbles and explosions with the drums, an island of church bells with the metals (beautiful by the way) and so forth. The movement for pitched percussion (vibes, etc) seems at times to fall into the academic statemtn of arpeggios in the Jonchaies scale, but also fals into lovely clouds of sine-like pitches. I had the realization while looking at the extremely complex score, both of how one might go about learning the rhythms with its multiple tempo modulations happening at the same time and how those rhythms are in a way related completely to the gridlike scaffolding that controls scores of the new complexity period. In some ways Xenakis can take the characteristics and outward appearances of these schools of music and reflect them in a quasi-scientific way of thinking. So the rhythmic bonds of complexity become rhythmic sieves, a liking of African polyrhythm is similarly reinterpreted and, pelog scales become pitch sieves.

Palimpsest (1979): This is a work for larger ensemble: oboe, cl, bsn, hn, pno, perc, and string quintet. Mainly filled with arborescences, which sometimes seem to fall into Czerny style. For some time these are drawn upon one another - as I see the palimpsest of the title- and filtered through rhythmic sieves to create polyrhythms. The work ends with a spectacular passage in which tempered tones become untempered by their layout. see m.106 on. I wonder if this is a function of the recording - the otherwise abyssmal Ianissimo II album, I believe - or is actualy in the music itself. Nonetheless it is amazing, it seems almost that Xenakis is oneupping the spectralists.

Ais (1979): Ritualistic enactment of fragments from Homer and Sappho pertaining to death for baritone and orchestra. Striking work with its rich use of percussion in Xenakis style - the percussion is relatively regualr and provides an air of authenticity. Also "authentic" is the free use of the falsetto register for the baritone soloist. The opening is quite beautiful the brass on C above middle C in an antiphonal texture leading into the baritone's main gesture a tritone descent from soprano F to B on I-U-A-I with a Monteverdi trill coming as it does aftera long scatter of "Gu" This stylized horse-like wailing recurs continually throughout the piece especially at the end after the bones are ripped from the body and brought to Hades. The entire chromatic space is saturated the percussion goes wild and the stylized cry comes out. One can only think here of Xenakis the romantic as this is a particularly lovely and wellused but romantic gesture. Perhaps this is why this music speaks to me so much, There is a good deal of emotion and it seems to me that the emotional content becomes subsumed in the prevailing mathematical dialogue that was so important for composers at the time. Xenakis needed to couch his romanticism in math for him to be accepted. In this way he was good at marketing. He also is keen to play with our connections. Modal melodies are used at tender moments and these become couched in sieves. (Harley says the cry comes from a Corsican seabird)

Embellie (1981): Solo viola - "the calm in the storm" Said to be more freely composed - as if the other pieces aren't - one o his least satisfying solo works. Quasi-modal flavor which I think must be related to the "rustic"-ness of the viola. Falls into runs of the pelog sieve halfway thoghuout and then gestures reminiscent of Kottos. Ends with a harmonic gliss, perhaps its best moment. Disappointing. But then again, the other solo string works, with the exception of Kottos (Mikka, Mikka S, Theraps for instance) are also rather dull. Studies for larger works perhaps, or pointing toward limitations of the techniques when applied to solo instruments.

Mists (1981): Piano solo - rather disappointing. Here we have some random walks in arborescent fields coupled with some more random cloud-like structures, the "mists" of the title. These use a new technique for Xenakis - basically setting out a grid of sixteenth notes with the pitch rhythms spread out apart from the structure - this alows for a freer rhythmic sense and likely contributes to the effect Xenakis is looking for. I feel that this piece is an overall effect and the details are not quite well thought out - harmonically its dull. I almost get the feeling of a dull "Open Music" composed score that hasn't been adequately polsihed off.

Komboi (1981): Harpsichord and Percussion, Greek word for "knots" Formulaic (that's a word I would rarely use for Xenakis, but here it seems appropriate) piece it seems. There is some of the random note approach involved as well as some of the more rhythmic moments. There is also a much better integration of the scale (it sounds like the Jonchaies scale, but Harley says it is different) than in parts of Pleides - it is used harmonically. I find ever much that the use of harmony is so imprtnat for a work to not feel random and when it is eschewed it is becuase Xenais is trying to acheive the efect of randomness. Now, I'm torn as to whether or not random-ness is to be desired in a piece of music, and as to what the difference between something like randomness and somehting like arbitrariness is. I will think on this and save it for later.

Serment (1981): Choral work, written for of al tings, a cardio-vascular congress and setting parts of the Hippocratic Oath "Serment" = "oath" Begins with a setting out of a scale similar to the Jonchaies scale - which by now starts to sound more Javanese especially when presented melodically. Some formulaic use of the scale alternating with moments of brilliance - the piercing cries and use of Monteverdi trills. At the end of the work some heavy breathing alternating with glissandi, finally ending with what looks like Xenakis having some fun with Augenmusik - chords that build up and sustain with time intervals between pich entries at something like the thirty-second note. I remain deeply impressed with Xenakis' idiomatic, yet non-traditional use of the choir as ritual body perhaps. This likely developing from the notion of choir as in a Greek tragedy.

Labels: ,

19 January 2007

I’ll begin with a few words about this blog My intent is to use this to document several of my ongoing projects. First, the composition of my latest work, a piece for large ensemble to be played by the Columbia Sinfonietta under Jeff Milarsky on April 23rd at Merkin Concert Hall in New York. This piece will also be the focus of my dissertation and I thought it would be helpful if I were to write down some of my compositional decisions and the reasons behind them in preparation for writing them up in dissertation format.

Second, I will use this space to store my listening notes. I keep a rather strict listening regimen in which I sit with new pieces – recordings and scores – and listen to them each morning. I have been doing this for about ten years on and off. Originaly it was to acquaint myself with the major works of the Western tradition. Later, I began to get more comprehensive setting out to study particular composers in depth. In this regard, I found the best way to do this was to listen to everything they wrote in the chronological order that it was written. Now this becomes problematic when we reach works that have never been recorded. In this case, I am usually able to obtain a score and can have a look at the piece. To date, I have looked at the music of Schutz (ongoing – many works have been dfficult to obtain); Schumann, Berlioz, Messiaen, Ligeti, Carter (this ran into serious problems when I was unable to get scores and recordings of the music from much of the 90s onward) and Stravinsky. I have also been engaged currently with the music of Xenakis, Lutoslawski, Debussy, Schoenberg, Scelsi, Crawford Seeger, Copland, Brahms, Crumb, Vivier, Grisey, Ockeghem and Nono and to a lesser extent Ives, Britten, Ruggles, Ferneyhough, Boulez and Berg. I expanded the list exponentially when I got tired of listening to the same composers everyday. Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Xenakis for a variety of rather dull reasons. At a certain point, I realized that I would benefit more from this activity if I were to keep notes about the pieces I heard. These I will post here as well. I don’t claim that these notes are authoritative, nor that they are even interesting (I have my good moments and bad moments and some pieces provoke a better reaction), but perhaps someone might be interested. In many cases, I imagine they will be among the few things written about these pieces.

Third, I will use this to reflect on the process of getting an academic job in music composition, a daunting process to say the least, as well as discussing various other standard blog issues – performances, food and so forth. It will likely take some time for me to get the multimedia aspect of the whole thing down, so (if anyone is reading this) bear with me.

With that in mind….

Labels: ,

17 January
Two thoughts on the trios. One voice of each trio should have the role of being a harmonic support which will tie the trios together harmonically. This will also enable the piece to have an overall harmonic scheme – I can also use this to speed up/slow down the harmonic motion of the piece which will also speed up and slow down the piece.
There can be a separate level to this mini-structure in that the harmonies can move toward a heterophony of the course of a section. I think this is also a way to incorporate my idea of the four-voiced microtonal harmony that will suffuse the piece. The cello and or other strings can provide a version of this in the traffic sections.

I want also to remark about some of the things I thought about yesterday. I have been working with this idea of tempo lanes – whereby each trio is in a particular speed throughout the piece. To combat the overall-ness of this: if everybody is always in one particular tempo then the overall effect will be one of staticness; I’ve created what I’ve called tempo merges in which the various lanes are forced to migrate to a particular tempo over a particular length of time. This way we could have another sense of direction in the particular sections. I had been working with an essentially arbitrary set of lanes, which I’ve altered. Originally the lanes were organized (from top to bottom) as 72; 48; 90; 108 these correspond to quarter; dotted-quarter; quintuplet quarter; triplet quarter. I realized in making the merges that this would result in a herky-jerky tempo motion, not an overall motion. So I’ve reorganized the lanes from fast to slow: 108; 90; 72; 48. This will provide in a merge (say in the case of 108 going to 48) 108 to 90 to 72 to 48. For something more nice like a merge to 72; we would have 108 to 90 to 72 while over a longer period of time 48 going to 72. I think this will provide a real sense of a clean line in acceleration/deceleration layers/lanes.

Let me discuss a moment about the trios. They have their own sort of structure in the way they rotate. The original trio are as follows: these derive simply from my own decision as to what would be an interesting trio as well as trios that will allow me a full scalar complement.


These instruments are simply numbered and the trios go through a rotation process to determine the new member of the trio


Becomes in the next section


This moves throughout the entire piece. From here there is the question of the other instrument in this case (at least in the beginning) the percussion. My thought is to have the extra instrument outside of the structure – riding on the shoulder or making its own road for instance. Now I haven’t decided yet, but I think it would be interesting to have this instrument rotate through the structure, say percussion first and the flute or oboe or whatever. This instrument outside the structure can act like a soloist which I think will perhaps help me to focus the piece around something.

If I do this I will have essentially two structural units: the inter-trio harmonic scheme and the solo and ensemble scheme. Around this the rest of the piece can be built. As well, there are the rather complicated scheme that creates and guides the tempi – first the merging lanes, the ensemble change scheme, as well as a larger mensuration scheme that will determine an overall tempo structure. I think this is okay because when we consider the four tempo layers, they only coincide every twelve beats. This means I will either have to have the piece written in a combination of three and four, or four alone, or else, and this is what I’m leaning toward now – using the mensuration signs, so we will begin in 3/1 meter. Now this is quite nasty for the players and conductor and so I have a lot of trepidation in using it.

I should also mention at this point that the whole piece is essentially in ritornello structure, in which this whole process will get put on hold for interruptions of the A – “traffic” section. This will be long in the beginning and at the end. At the end – the coda – I envision all hell breaking loose.

My thought is to come right out of the opening traffic section into a crazy section that will last about 15 measures before thinning out a bit. I think this will be able to provide me with a lot of melodic material as well as to delineate the characters of the various instruments – that is the primary modes of playing. This of course will not be audible but will give me some help.

January 19, 2007
I’ve actually quite terrified of composing this piece. I’ve put in several hours of actual composition and am not so pleased with the results. I think I need a new method of working with this and should likely think of it as a number of different trios that interact rather than a full score. In this way I think it would be much more manageable. I also think that I can then play with the relation of these trios (all within the structure I’ve set up) – so as to make them sextets. Think perhaps to how someone like Lassus works with a large vocal ensemble. I recall – and perhaps I should listen to it again – Lassus’ Lagrime de San Pietro – in that he has a large vocal ensemble, maybe 7+ that he manages to work with the small sections and bring in the full ensemble for dramatic moments. This could be a model for this piece as well. I’ll order the score.