Melancholia : for two percussionists, twenty-four found objects and eight-speaker sound diffusion
by Andrián Pertout (2009)
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Melancholia was especially composed for Australian percussion ensemble Speak Percussion.
The work serves as an exploration of the musical properties of Albrecht Dürer's Melancholia 1 (1514) 4×4 magic square and investigates its potential for structural indeterminacy. The magic square is firstly presented within the metrical scheme in its original form (rows 1 to 4: 16+3+2+13, 5+10+11+8, 9+6+7+12 and 4+15+14+1), to be then followed by an additional seven rotations and reflections (270% rotation, 180% rotation, 90% rotation, horizontal reflection, vertical reflection, right diagonal, left diagonal). In the 32-bar score, each player is presented with an 8-module structure and 8 staves of music with materials that (as a 2-stave set) may be interpreted horizontally, vertically and diagonally, as well as another 30 unique combinations. The compositional strategy allows for each 4-bar module to be repeated 3, 5 or 7 times, with freedom to overlap materials (from one 4-bar module to the next) up until the closing 4-bar module. The pitch material (assigned to Player 1 and 2) consists of an 8-note series based on an arrangement of the common three bells 'change-ringing' sequence - effectively 123, 213, 231, 321, 312, and 132 transformed into four-note loops. The pitch series begins with 1232 and 2131, and is then followed by the extension 2313 and 2131, to be concluded with an inversion of this expanded 16-note series (3212, 2313, 2131 and 2313). In the next 32-note set, further combinations are then introduced (3121 and 1323 and extension 3121 and 3212), and finally, the inversion of this second expanded 16-note series is presented (1323, 3121, 1323 and 1232). The same 64 pitches are also assigned to Player 3 and 4, but allocated to each separate part (two sets of 8 staves of music for Player 1-2 and 3-4) as a 32-note series in reverse. With regards to rhythm, all polyrhythmic ratios between 1 and 16 not greater than 1 have been systematically utilized within the rhythmic framework of the composition.
Instrumentation: Percussion (2 players), 8-speaker sound diffusion.
Duration: 12 min.
Performances of this work
7 Jan 12: 11th International Festival of Electroacoustic Music of Santiago, Goethe-Institut Santiago, Santiago, Chile
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