Gravity No. 1

Empty Cage Quartet records in Brooklyn, NY, September, 2008

Empty Cage Quartet records in Brooklyn, NY, September, 2008

Gravity No. 1 is an 11-part open-instrumentation composition that was written in 2007. It was the subject of a presentation at the 2nd Annual Conference of the International Society for Improvised Music at Northwestern University in December, 2007, and funded in part by a Subito quick advancement grant from the American Composers Forum.

Subito quick advancement grant ($1,500) from the American Composers Forum’s Los Angeles
and San Francisco Bay Area Chapters

The composition was recorded in New York City by the Empty Cage Quartet in September, 2008. That recording (which is excerpted below) resulted in the CD Gravity on Clean Feed Records.

Gravity No. 1 is the first in a series of compositions that examine my concept of gravity points. This system provides a method of selecting pitch and harmonic material via a conception of symmetrical intervallic relationships in which prescribed intervals above a given frequency are duplicated as a “mirror image” below that frequency. The notation is borrowed in part from musical set theory, where semitones away from a central pitch ‘0’ are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. to 11 (the major seventh interval) and then the series starts over again.

In this composition the notated material is designed to establish a systemic structure from which emergent zones of group interaction become possible as new connections are discovered during an improvised performance (improvisation here having to do with the selection of material from the score as well as individual extemporization). The goal for the ensemble is to channel temporary states of spontaneous musical activity into more expansive sound structures that are either derived from the composition or arrived at via the improvisation. As each new performance builds upon the last, these structures can be analyzed, catalogued and mapped, and the development of an ensemble consciousness can be measured against the decreasing degree of dependence upon the notation.

Download PDF: Gravity No. 1 (score + composition notes)

Excerpt – Gravity No. 1: Section 4

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