Date Completed: June '12
Part of Series: Fr.#.a…
Recording: Martin Goldray premiered this piece in the Sarah Lawrence auditorium, and here's the recording of that premiere on Soundcloud where you can download MP3s if you like as well. Below, I've added a YouTube video that autoscrolls the score during playback:
Or you can just stream the audio via this player: Performed by: Marty Goldray (piano)
Fr.III.a–l is a member of my Fr.#.a… series, and like all such pieces is named as if each movement were being systematically labeled at a museum or archaelogical expedition. Each individual movement is also labeled with the date, time and circumstances of its initial composition. This is the third collection of these types of fragmentary sketches, and there are twelve of them—labeled a–l.
The following is mostly taken from the introductory pages of the score:
These twelve pieces are fragments written in one sitting (possibly with more or less extensive editing at a later date) during vacations, or on interesting dates, or at interesting locations in my day-to-day life. Although some large-scale structural connections exist (discussed in the next paragraph), each piece generally creates its own soundworld. I hope that each one is evocative in its own way, despite their often truncated and idiosyncratic characters. Think of them as mysterious archaeological artifacts of one person's transitory existence—abstract journal entires without clear-cut meaning.
Unlike most pieces in what I call my Fr.#.a… series, Fr.III.a–l has a unifying structural design for each movement and there is a clear "narrative" that gives significance to their chronological ordering. In set-class theory, there are twelve distinct combinations of three different notes that are possible. That is to say, if you look at every possible combination of three different notes, and eliminate superficial differences such as register and order, only twelve unique intervallic collections exist. I explored each of these trichordal set classes in order from the most compact to the least compact, with each movement serving as a meditation on both the harmonic and melodic possibilities of each one in turn. I further unified the movements by beginning and ending each movement with some kind of presentation of a special six-note collection called the all-trichord hexachord (012478). This set is very cool, because if one picks out individual three-note chunks of it one will find at least one representative of each of the twelve aforementioned trichords. Thus, each movement begins with a six-note event, but eventually three of those notes disappear from the texture, leaving behind the three-note set that the movement will proceed to explore. Similarly, each movement, ends with a simple presentation of its titular three-note set, which is then clouded by the reïintroduction of the three remaining notes of the all-trichord hexachord.
The pieces and the score have benefitted immeasurably due to the work, advice and eagle eyes of Martin Goldray. It was an enormous honor when he said he wanted to work on the pieces and perform them for our Sarah Lawrence students, and, in several rehearsals and e-mail conversations, he has made musical and notational suggestions that have been enthusiastically incorporated into the final draft. His musicality gave these pieces life, and I can't thank him enough.
Check the Detailed Analysis below for descriptions of the personal circumstances behind each individual movement.
In one sense, these pieces are deeply personal. Each movement was written in a relatively brief burst during my beloved vacations with my beloved wife, or on tours with my friends in Anti-Social Music, or in deeply-involving rehearsals. All of them were written rather quickly, and with as little self-editing as I could limit myself to.
In another sense, the idiosyncratic and abstract nature of each piece makes them deeply impersonal. Or at least I suspect that's the case. At no point did I decide to communicate a particular emotion, form or narrative; aren't those filters necessary for any kind of communication we could call personal? Maybe not, but I find myself very confused and unsure about it.
Which is more personal? Is revealing the ramblings of my unconscious or semi-conscious mind more personal, or is a rationally constructed—and thus rationally communicated—auto-biographical narrative? Indeed, which of these is more truly ME? Obviously, I'm both my conscious and my unconscious mind, but which has a stronger claim to my sense of self? Surely it's the more formally-constructed consciousness, and yet it's just as clear that I can deeply and falsely filter my self for public consumption. What the hell is going on here? And even if the unconscious mind is more theoretically revelatory of my deeper thoughts and feelings, does this really matter if the artistic result communicates more enigmatically?
I'm at a loss to explain it, but I love poking at the conundrum, and these stream-of-consciousness pieces seem to muddy the waters delightfully. For instance, why is it called stream of consciousness when it is quite clearly the unfiltered unconsciousness that is being presented?
Fuck it. I'm going to bed.