17 November 2014

Scheming the Avocado

First of all, although this was the fifth Avocado, it is not (or, it is no longer) the last.  Per Masha's suggestion, there will be seven Tiny Wild Avocadoes.

The first through the third of the set I composed in my sort-of-improvisational mode.  For the fourth, I drew up the "chord progression," as it were, and then gradually discovered how I wished the three players to unfold it.

For the fifth, I decided to go back to a compositional game I have frequently played, of rhythmic processes.

Let's go to Illustration #1:

You note, Gentle Reader, that the top row of figures consists of four subsets.  The numbers represent quarter-note values (i.e., 1 = a quarter-note; 2 = a half-note; 3 = a dotted-half-note), and so the series of numbers represent a series of rhythmic values.  The first and third subsets (marked A) are the same.  The second subset (B) is actually the same as A, less the concluding element (1);  and the final subset (B1) is the same as B, less its concluding element (3).  So my first idea for the piece was that this repeating series of rhythmic values would govern the two violins, who would play at the octave, one pizzicato, the other sustained tremolo.

The pitches for the violins I improvised;  the pitches, too, are in a (non-atonal) series of 25, which repeat out of phase with the rhythms.  These pitches you can see (and deployed in the rhythms charted above) in Illustration #2 (that part of the page marked AREA 2):

(AREA 1 is irrelevant to our present discussion, being a sketch for the third Avocado.)

The lower line of figures in Illustration #1 is also a series of rhythmic values, intended for the viola, which I derived from the violins' rhythmic series as follows.  First:  Where in the first series, there were two consecutive 2's, I struck the second (hence the X's — or at least the first four of the X's — beneath the top row of figures).  Second:  The 1's from the violins' series were retained without change.  Third:  To all the other values (save the final 2 of B1, marked with that deviational X) I added 1.

Then I devised a series of pitches for the viola, independent from that which I composed/improvised for the violins.  It was different both in being shorter, nine notes (and non-repeating, and atonal-ish), and perfect fourth-ey.

AREA 3 of Illustration #2 I drew up on the flight from Atlanta back to Boston.  Well, AREA 2, as well, only I had gotten AREA 2 right, where I found that I had gotten realization of the viola part (i.e., the game of applying the rhythmic value series to the pitch series) wrong.  And though I discovered that I had gone wrong, and made an attempt to fix it ... I found it something of a visual mess.  So I inscribed it RE-DO (as you may see), and realized that I could simplify the matter with a sheet of graph paper.  (This graph paper was in my three-ring binder from the time that I was working out the rhythmic profile of the Thelonious Monk tune "Evidence.")

The result is the apparently not musical, but refreshingly clear and reliable, Illustration #3:

So, there we have it:  pretty much all of the "stuff" of the fifth Avocado, a piece which (I think) I still managed to make musical, and not just . . . a chart.  But, perhaps I am mistaken . . . .

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