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“Contingencies” explores the ways that the elements of music lean on and affect each other. The program consists of 4 movements organized by dynamic: Fast, Quiet, Loud, and Slow. The Suit is Dynamics is bookended by two short intro/outro solo voice pieces about interval.
The Intro is a short composition for a single voice singing subtones by manipulating lip ambature. Technically, if one is creating a frequency by vibrating ones vocal chords (singing) while simultaneously vibrating ones lips at specific frequency ratios to ones singing, once can produce tertiary frequencies above and, in the case of this piece, below the fundamental. My style of subtone singing is an exercise in addative synthesis, a study on the way in which combinations of frequency produces different audible results.
The first movement of the suite, Fast, is a composition for piano, drums, electric bass, and electric guitar that moves between rapid (and some not so rapid) sections rapidly. This piece jumps between musical styles in tight unisons and ought to invoke sensations of movement through different sonic spaces. The function of the piece is to explore how a listener’s experience of disparate environments experienced in succession affects the ways that those environments are perceived.
The second movement of the suite, Quiet, is a composition for Cello, Flute, and Voice that functions by creating various thresholds of volume and then breaking them sequentially, all within a very low volume range. The first half of the piece explores the threshold of silence. The intention is that the piece induces hallucinations by way of confusion in the audience about which sonorities are being produced by the players versus which are being produced by the environment, while the second half goes for a similar effect, this time projecting harmonics between the players.
The third movement of the suite, Loud, is the most improvised section of the program. Structurally, it has 5 sections. Each of the first 4 sections begins with a short improvised solo by one of the quartet (drums, sax, electric guitar, electric bass) which is then very quickly jumped on by the rest of the ensemble who listen in and flesh out the initial idea expressed in the solo. Each round is done when the idea has come to its natural conclusion. This section is a study in quick-fire listening and decision-making. The 5th section is started in Unison with a rotating “leader”.
The fourth movement, Slow, is about the gradual development of thematic material and is an arrangement of a melody and harmony for two voices and looping machine. As the piece progresses, the density of pitches slowly increases to reveal the underlying harmonic structure.
The Outro is simply a solo performance of one of the greatest melodies ever written, Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn: a sequence of pitches that infers a very dense and very complete harmony, a single line that infers a multiplicity.
When I make work, the ultimate consideration is what for? When asked to produce a senior concert, perhaps the most difficult task was making the choices that would most accurately reflect the course of my study and my personal development in the last year. Contingencies was built to show the breadth of my interests, from inside to out, and hopefully, by thread of my involvement and commitment, show my capacities and interests as an instrumentalist and composer.
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Sokolov-Gonzalez, Jake, "Variety Show: Contingencies" (2012). Senior Projects Fall 2012. 39.
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