Program Notes

Apparitions of The 27:28 Symmetry under The 72:81:88 Differential Cirrus | 16 VII 20

Since 2010 my work has been concerned with a single set of harmonies I call The Four Pillars: four types of intervals, exponential multiples of 3, 7, 9, and 11, that can be drawn from pure overtone ratios of a single fundamental frequency at 36 Hz. In the years since I began working exclusively with these harmonies I have discovered and cultivated a number of compelling harmonic subsets of the work. One of these subsets, The 72:81:88 Differential is heard in this work as a continuous grounding force from which the musicians weave their improvisations. The 72:81:88 Differential is particularly special because the difference tones created by the chord outline a lower set of frequencies in the ratio 4:7:9; an important chord not only for this work, but also in the work of my long-time mentor La Monte Young. The pioneering and visionary example set by Young has been instrumental to my development as a composer and this harmonic confluence has become a driving force for my thinking in regards to tuning within The Four Pillars.

The 27:28 Symmetry in the title refers to the set of pitches from The Four Pillars that the musicians perform. The chord created by the close tuning of the 27th and 28th harmonics, and their symmetrical pairs in the lower tetrachord, has a nebulous quality that is deeply inspired by Young's The Second Dream of The High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer which I had the great pleasure of hearing performed and rehearsed while helping to install and maintain Dia 15 VI 13 545 West 22 Street Dream House by La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and Jung Hee Choi. In The Second Dream… the use of each pitch is intimately tied to the harmonic whole of the composite waveforms. The simple power of this compositional principle is immediately evident when one hears this work live, vibrating the air around you. After the first full rehearsal of the work that I heard, I felt a complete change in my thinking, and I knew I would never write music the same way again.

In the pair of video works that accompany the performance, I use relevant star signs to trace a free-form set of spirals. Those spirals are set into motion, rotating at constant rates. This moving form is then mirrored quadrilaterally and set to slowly cross quadrants. The video is projected through a dichroic filter which brings the work into a pure blue spectrum. Each aspect of the timing and the number of spirals is related to the tuning of The Four Pillars, so, while the projection does not actively react to the music, its movements are intimately related, creating a continuous whole in sound and light.

Written to accompany the world premiere of Apparitions of The 27:28 Symmetry under The 72:81:88 Differential Cirrus in a setting of Quadrilateral Starfield Symmetry PAVS(3) 2:7:154 commissioned by the Transit New Music Festival for the ensemble ChampdAction.