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Les cycles de la lune : for clarinet

by Andrián Pertout (2019)

Work Overview

'Les cycles de la lune' or 'The Cycles of the Moon' was especially composed for Croatian clarinettist Bruno Philipp (Zagreb, Croatia), and represents a Hommage à Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). The work incorporates Messiaen's seventeen-note rhythmic pedal utilized in the piano writing of Liturgie de cristal - the first movement of Quatuor pour la fin du temps, or Quartet for the End of Time (1940). In this work Messiaen juxtaposes seventeen durations (talea) with twenty-nine vertical sonorities, or chords (color) to form a complex 'prime number' isorhythm. The actual source of the rhythmic material is North Indian 'Hindustani' classical music, and specifically the 120 Desi-Talas according to the system of Sarngadeva (1175-1247) - a 13th-century Indian musicologist, and author of Sangita Ratnakara (the "classical Sanskrit text on music and drama"). Messiaen creates his seventeen-note 'false' tala by grouping a sequence of three desi-talas: Ragavardhana (#93: 1+1½+1+6 = 9½), Candrakala (#105: 4+4+4+6+6+6+2 = 32), and Laksmisa (#88: 1+1½+2+4 = 8½).

According to an article by Mirjana Simundza published by the Croatian Musicological Society in the International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music entitled Messiaen's Rhythmical Organisation and Classical Indian Theory of Rhythm (1987): "The tala ragavardhana is twice augmented and is in a non-retrograde form with a dissected greatest value. The candrakala is achieved by a double proportional diminution and the laksmisa by a double proportional augmentation." 'Les cycles de la lune' utilizes eight pairs of repetitions of Messiaen's seventeen-note sequence of desi-talas, with the durations of the second cycle of each pair reversed (a retrograde of the original rhythmic pattern) in order to generate a non-retrogradable thirty-four-note pattern that is then accorded with a tempo structure incorporating augmentations and diminutions of the pulse in the following proportions: 1:0, 4:3, 3:2, 2:3, 3:2, 4:3, 3:2, 2:3; and 9:8, 4:3, 3:2, 2:3, 3:2, 4:3, 3:2, 2:3. These proportions may also be represented via the following series of tempos: crotchet = 60, crotchet = 80, crotchet = 120, crotchet = 80, crotchet = 120, crotchet = 160, crotchet = 240, crotchet = 160; and crotchet = 180 (crotchet = 180 the result of a 3:2 metric modulation on the twice augmented 'original' pulse in the opening crotchet = 60 tempo), crotchet = 240, crotchet = 360, crotchet = 240, crotchet = 360, crotchet = 480, crotchet = 720, crotchet = 480.

Work Details

Year: 2019

Instrumentation: Clarinet in B flat.

Duration: 6 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional

Dedication note: Hommage à Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)

Commission note: Composed for Bruno Philipp (Zagreb, Croatia)

The compser notes the following styles, genres, influences etc. associated with this work:
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) Quatuor pour la fin du temps, or Quartet for the End of Time (1940), North Indian ‘Hindustani’ classical music 120 Desi-Talas

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