seven rotations of seven for three

Programme Note

seven rotations of seven for three (triple doubles) was written for Emile Cantor, Gareth Lubbe, and Barbara Maurer. Though very different, it's a retrospective view of my tramontana which was premiered by Barbara in 2004. As with that piece, the violas are tuned so that the first three strings have a harmonic in common with the seventh partial of the fourth string—a pitch which plays a central and recurring role in the piece.

seven rotations is, then, an abstract investigation of the sonic, microtonal, and dramatic potential of the viola double harmonics available using this tuning, as well as a sevenfold rotation of two sets of seven-bar rhythmic sequences. Of these, one set is quite fast and discontinuous and the other is slow in tempo but frenetic and heavy or obsessive. The piece was generated with my slippery chicken algorithmic composition software but heavily edited or, rather, `interpreted' via extensive standard pencil-and-paper techniques.

Although each of the three viola parts is equally challenging, there is a general sense of the second (middle) viola being flanked by the other two, left and right. Overall, the second viola moves from double harmonics on the first two strings to those on the lower two whereas the flanking players have the opposite movement. Another process at play is the gradual introduction of a low microtonal `melody' on the C string: `normal' notes are conspicuously absent at first but dominate more as the piece progresses.

(I apologise if all of this sounds rather dull and/or technical, but my approach to music and especially composition is usually purely formal, abstract, hermetic even, and process-based, as opposed to conceptual. To put it another way, it is focused on creating and framing opportunities for perception rather than seeking support or justification in the `extra-musical'.)