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Ariadne’s thread : for tenor trombone and baritone saxophone

by Andrián Pertout (2013)

Work Overview

Ariadne's Thread was commissioned by Barrie Webb (UK) and Emil Sein (Romania), and composed as a Hommage à Lou Harrison (1917-2003). The work features a structure directly inspired by Harrison's Ariadne for Flute and Percussion (1987). Within the liner notes of Lou Harrison: In Retrospect, Leta Miller presents the following description of Ariadne's second movement: "In The Triumph of Ariadne and Dionysos, Harrison employs a compositional principle related to the Indian tala, a complex repeating rhythmic pattern. In this case, Harrison has composed seven lines of music for flute and seven for percussion, each consisting of seven measures in the order 3/2, 3/8, 4/4, 3/8, 6/8, 4/8 and 4/4. The order of these seven lines is left up to the performer, who may play them in any arrangement, repeating or omitting some at will. Any flute line may be combined with any percussion line, and one of the players may choose to be silent for a particular repetition. The piece is thus variable in length and dramatic form." 'Ariadne's Thread' adopts an expanding and contracting metrical scheme, or 6/8, 2/2, 10/8, 6/4, 9/4, 15/8 and 3/2, equal to 81 quaver pulses, with staves A and E accorded with 'slow music', while C and G, and B, D and F with 'medium-paced music' and 'fast music' respectively.

The melodic and rhythmic materials of the work feature transformations based on the theoretical writings of Joseph Schillinger (1895-1943) - published posthumously as part of The Schillinger System of Musical Composition (1978) and Kaleidophone: New Resources of Melody and Harmony: Pitch Scales in Relation to Chord Structures (2003). The compositional techniques derived from Schillinger's writings include: (1) Serial development of pitch scales in relation to chord structures - the incorporation of triads 3, 10 and 16 and associated 5-note pitch scales; (2) Homogeneous simultaneity and continuity (variations) - the utilization of the 'Binomial 2+1, or 'a=2; b = 1' and 'Trinomial 2+1+1, or 'a=2; b = 1' to generate duration-units (attacks) and rests; and (3) Distributive powers - the concept of 'fractional groups' utilized subdivide the metrical scheme via the available charts of binomials and trinomials for squaring and synchronization.

Work Details

Year: 2013

Instrumentation: Tenor trombone, baritone saxophone.

Duration: 14 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional

Dedication note: Hommage à Lou Harrison (1917-2003)

Commission note: Commissioned by Barrie Webb (UK) and Emil Sein (Romania)

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Lou Harrison 'The Triumph of Ariadne and Dionysos', Joseph Schillinger (1895-1943)

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