Groove theory (violin with string orchestra)
by Hollis Taylor (2000)
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Library shelf no. 784.7272/TAY 1 [Available for loan]
String Theory is a theory of everything, an all-encompassing explanation for our universe, which claims that all matter is composed of tiny vibrating strings. These strings are the smallest possible building blocks of reality. Groove Theory is my corrollary theory of everything which claims that all music must swing and dance and pulse and groove.
The four movements variously reflect the use of chromaticism and slides as connecting devices; employ figure/ground reversal with the soloist and orchestra (a riff on current physics which states that a wave is sometimes a wave and sometimes a particle); and draw on techniques such as counterpoint (including retrograde, inversions, etc.), symmetrical sections and scales, and strange loops which return to an original key or motif.
1. Trip the Light Fantastic. This expression was originated by John Milton in "L'Allegro," 1632, "Come and trip it as ye go, On the light fantastick toe." Although fantastick was not the name of any particular dance, the phrase came to mean "to dance." It survived and was revived in the popular song "The Sidewalks of New York," 1894. Electro-magnetism, one of the four forces to be united by string theory, appears in the introduction which explores the dualities of light and dark, and during moments when the orchestra exists more as the sound of electricity than as pitch. A samba follows, where the soloist is sometimes part of the rhythm section and vice versa, a variation on the modern physics concept that a wave is sometimes a particle and a particle is sometimes a wave.
2. Blues for Terra Incognita. String theory suggests that our world has six more dimensions than the ones we experience (the standard three plus time). This movement is a blues for what we cannot see but can perhaps imagine, however dimly.
3. Quantum Jitterbug. This movement takes its name from quantum jitters, the wild bouncing of the subatomic world.
4. Gravity's Tango. Above a certain size, above the quantum stuff, gravity holds sway. This movement makes use of slides and chromatic scales, especially descending ones in honor of gravity.
The work can be performed on Baroque or contemporary string instruments. The percussionist must improvise.
Instrumentation: Solo violin, strings, harpsichord, percussion.
Duration: 25 min.
Contents note: I. Trip the light fantastic -- II. Blues for Terra Incognita -- III. Quantum gitterbug -- IV. Gravity's tango.
Commission note: Commissioned by Monica Huggett and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. Funded by major grants from the American Composers' Forum and Meet the Composer.
First performance: 10 Mar 01. Portland, Oregon, USA
Performances of this work
10 Mar 01: Portland, Oregon, USA
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