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Assente in uno stato di flusso : for trombone

by Andrián Pertout (2020)

Work Overview

Assente in uno stato di flusso or 'Absent in a State of Flow' was especially composed for Australian Trombonist Greg Van der Struik (Principal Trombone, Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Sydney, Australia), and represents a Hommage à Ben Johnston (1926-2019). Johnston was an American composer of contemporary music in just intonation (a student of American composer, music theorist, and creator of musical instruments Harry Parch [1901-1974]), and is referenced as "one of the foremost composers of microtonal music" by American music critic Mark Swed (The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 1995) and as "one of the best non-famous composers this country has to offer" by American music critic, editor, arts administrator, and dance critic John Rockwell (The New York Times, 1990). The work explores microtonality in the form of 7-limit just intonation and the musical implications of combinatoriality as an organizational determinant, as well as algorithmic composition, or 'automated composition' as a method for music composition, in reference to "the process of using some formal process to make music with minimal human intervention."

Assente in uno stato di flusso adopts an algorithmic approach to music composition in the form of 'probabilistic automata' and the combinatorial generation of 'unrestricted rhythms' - the methodology eloquently presented by American physicists Stefan Hollos and J. Richard Hollos in 'Creating Melodies' (2018) and 'Creating Rhythms' (2014) within the context of a regular language, "defined in terms of an automaton which is simply a set of states and rules for moving between the states." The compositional methodology adopted in the creation of the work involved the initial 'organic,' or intuitively-driven invention of a set of themes, which in this case comprised of the generation of one unique 27-note theme, including its additional inverted form, or transformation, melodically expanded to 39 notes, and then to 51 notes in order to arrive at tripartite constituent parts. The algorithmic melodic development of the complete collection of thematic materials relied on the establishment of second order approximations that take all note transition probabilities into account. The pitch material features the Octatonic Major, or Diminished 'Whole Step-Half Step' Scale (Ascending) and Octatonic Minor, or Diminished 'Half Step-Whole Step' Scale (Descending) in 7-Limit Just Intonation. For its rhythm, the work adopts the combinatorial strategy of 'Single-State Probabilistic Automatons,' or "unrestricted compositions of the integer n into m parts": in other words all possible compositions of n = 7 and m = 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or all 7 pulse rhythms with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 onsets.

Work Details

Year: 2020

Instrumentation: Trombone.

Duration: 4 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional

Dedication note: Hommage à Ben Johnston (1926-2019)

Written for: Greg Van der Struik

First performance: by Greg Van der Struik — 18 Oct 20. Harbord Park, Freshwater, Sydney

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc in relation to this work:

Ben Johnston (1926-2019), Harry Parch (1901-1974), 7-limit Just Intonation, Microtonality, Octatonic Major and Minor Scales, Combinatoriality Algorithmic Composition, Stefan Hollos and J. Richard Hollos, Single -and Multi-State Probabilistic Automatons.

Performances of this work

18 Oct 20: Harbord Park, Freshwater, Sydney. Featuring Greg Van der Struik.

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