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Song of the central tree : setting of poem by Keith Harrison

by Ron Nagorcka (2010)

Audio Sample

Performance by Ron Nagorcka, Ole Jorgen Melhus, Nina Sautherhaug, Hakan Henriksen, Sven Ivar Frydenlund from the CD Song of the central tree

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Song of the central tree


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Work Overview

Inspired by a poem about a tree, this slow setting uses a "just intonation" scale utilising intervals based on the 7th harmonic as well as more familiar harmonies. This may sound strange in theory, but audiences do not find it at all difficult to listen to - and it has proved to be a favourite in concerts. The electronic keyboard part is crucial to this work, containing extensive manipulation of the composer's voice and other recorded sounds.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: Basso profundo, contralto, cello, trombone and midi keyboard controlling a computer (laptop) audio program (necessary "soundfont" files supplied by composer on request), stereo playback.(Alto could be replaced by clarinet or violin).

Duration: 6 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Requires a bass voice to sing low A. The piece is in just intonation and uses an unfamiliar notation for accidentals. However, the harmonies are not difficult to get used to.

First performance: 20 May 12. Velaslavasay Panorama, Los Angeles, California

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc on this work:

Electronic manipulation (sampling techniques derived from musique concrete) is used as the basis of a piece which is otherwise strangely conventional. This is one of many works by this composer using the tuning system known as "just intonation" which has a strong following in California where pioneers such as Harry Partch and Lou Harrison worked and where Ron Nagorcka studied in the 1970s.

The composer provides this additional note:

As explained in the score, the composer will provide "soundfont" files for the keyboard/electronic part on request. The sound issuing from every note on the keyboard is determined by these files once they are loaded into an appropriate audio program.


Performances of this work

4 Sep 13: Ilen kirke, Trondheim, Norway. Featuring Ron Nagorcka, Nina Sautherhaug, Ole Jorgen Melhus, Hakaan Henrikson, David Scott Hamnes.

20 May 12: Velaslavasay Panorama, Los Angeles, California

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