Monday, February 02, 2009


The Rhythmic Reduction of Perceptual Groupings of Timbrel Events.

I was listening to Sibelius (1865-1957) Sixth Symphony Saturday night, in particular the 2nd movement. I must admit that I am struck by the classical nature of this symphony, almost like the seventh of Beethoven. But that aside, I noticed that I tend to follow works based on groups of timbre's. This of course is very obvious in one sense, for instance if you are trying to describe to a person how to listen to a piece of music and they are not familiar with the vulgate, so you talk about how the strings come in and then the brass etc.

What really got me thinking though is that when I first hear any piece that is new to me and that I have not been preconditioned to hear in terms of musical training, this type of listening predominates. For me, this is how I prefer to hear. I have imagined listening to timbre as a structural device and one that has it's own syntax and interactions. The act of reducing timbrel groups to rhythmic figures serves to lessen the implications of pitch and functional harmony. Of course, this ultimately can not be overlooked, but it is largely subservient to the timbrel groupings.

Inspired by this hearing I have begun making reductions of pieces wherein the the timbrel groups are notated as individual lines, all with the same pitch. The goal of these is to create reductions where the sections as I perceive them are evident. One reason for this is to look at the relative length of events and investigate the proportions. The other reason and for me the more important one is that I can then take these reductions and reconstitute them by adding timbre. I have undertaken this by keeping the pitch material limited and exploring what I can do with articulation and instrumental grouping. The term "Ready Mades" comes to mind. Having grown up in the 80's "Just add water" also comes to mind.


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