Program Notes

The Four Pillars Appearing from The Resonating Discs invoking The 72:81:88 Confluence | 17 IV 06


This work for TIGUE: The Four Pillars Appearing from The Resonating Discs invoking The 72:81:88 Confluence is the first time I am utilizing a new concept with my work, what I call a perceptual score.

I have always been fascinated with interdependent self-contained systems. From early explorations inspired by John Cage's ideas of micro/macrocosmic relationships and the "square root" to the epiphany of Just Intonation as taught to me by La Monte Young, the numbers behind my work have proved to be the most constant element in my development as a composer.

In 2010 I began developing a codified system of tuning that has since blossomed into an all-encompassing numerological concept that guides my choices not just about pitch, but in every aspect of the work. I call this The Four Pillars and it is represented here tonight in the highlighted overtones of the percussion instruments, in the ratios and speeds of the projections, and most importantly, in organizational methods of perception and structure that are guiding the choices of the performers. This new perceptual score model is built from units of time that expand and contract imperceptibly but work from the same numeric elements as the rest of the work. Structure, and pitch reinforce each other creating an immersive ecosystem where time stands still, if only for a moment.

While I was in Belgium preparing for a new work for ChampdAction that was commissioned by the Transit Festival, I had a great epiphany: Time is my medium, and I can sculpt it from sound and light in ways that change how we perceive the world around us.

Gongs and cymbals - the resonating discs of the title - are amplified in such a way that specific frequencies from The Four Pillars are highlighted creating shimmering chords that hover above the droning "pitchless" gongs and cymbals. I first developed this technique in 2014 with my work for R. Andrew Lee: The Four Pillars Appearing from The Equal D under Resonating Apparitions of The Eternal Process in The Midwinter Starfield. In this work, the harmonic resonators extend the equal tempered piano into the realm of just intonation. As soon as I heard the result I knew I wanted to try the technique on percussion instruments. This is the first piece I've written exclusively for percussion in about 16 years, and it feels a fitting return. I have finally found a way to reconcile my current aesthetic position with those sounds that first intrigued me when I began making music.


Written to accompany the World Premiere of The Four Pillars Appearing from The Resonating Discs invoking The 72:81:88 Confluence in a setting of Quadrilateral Starfield Symmetry ATS4 Base 6:81 commissioned for TIGUE by Avant Media