Estrellita : for toy piano
by Andrián Pertout (2012)
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'Estrellita' or 'Little Star' was composed as a Homenaje a John Cage (1912-1992) - in Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of his Birth. In the tradition of American composer, pianist and theorist Henry Cowell (1897-1965) and his monumental publication of New Musical Resources (1930), the work explores a variety of compositional techniques developed during the twentieth century by American experimentalist composer Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997) and documented by Kyle Gann in The Music of Conlon Nancarrow (1995). The C Major scale is adopted as the basic pitch material, while the simple five-limit frequencies ratios associated with the C Major triad form the basis for rhythmic development: fundamental or unison (the frequency ratio 1/1), just major third or 5th harmonic (5/4, or 386.314 cents), and just perfect fifth or 3rd harmonic (3/2, or 701.955 cents).
The melodic elements of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little, Star - the English language nursery rhyme of nineteenth-century English origin; often sung to the tune of the French melody Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman (1761); a melody employed in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Twelve Variations for Piano 'Ah, vous dirai-je, maman', K. 265 (1778), as well as Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and the Alphabet Song - also feature in the work, which are incorporated via a compositional process structured around tempo canons (or diminution canons, expressed as polyrhythmic ratios: 4/5/6) and a rhythmic sequence based on a De Bruijn cycle (0000, 1001, 1010, 1111). The 4/5/6 polyrhythmic ratios present a tripartite metrical scheme, which essentially juxtaposes three distinct layers of materials simultaneously at 30, 37.5 and 45 minims per minute. The work also serves as an exploration of the post-tonal harmonic possibilities within the twelve-note chromatic scale as presented by Elliott Carter in his monumental publication of the Harmony Book, with additional pitch material directly derived from Elliott Carter's 3-note chord subsets of 6-note chord no. 35 (D#, E, F, G, A# and B).
Instrumentation: 37-key toy piano.
Duration: 4 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional
Written for: Sally Whitwell
The composer has noted the following styles, genres, influences, etc on this work:
Henry Cowell (1897-1965); Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997); Twinkle, Twinkle, Little, Star; De Bruijn cycle; Elliott Carter's Harmony Book
Performances of this work
10 Apr 16: Melbourne Composers' League ‘Elbow Room’ Concert, Barn Gallery, Montsalvat, Eltham, Melbourne, Australia. Featuring Haydn Reeder.
10 Apr 2016: at Elbow Room Monstsalvat (Montsalvat).
2 Oct 15: Konzert Piano Daze: Ein Tastenwirbel zwischen, Meßmer Momentum, Hamburg, Germany
5 Sep 12: Wolf Museum of Music and Art, Lancaster, PA, USA
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