Music Performance 361, Fall 2005: Introduction to Composition
Assignment 2: due Monday, October 3, 2005
Compositional challenge: write a short work for piano solo (approximately one page in length) which explores "free-floating" or ametric/aperiodic rhythms. While your composition should avoid an impression of consistent pulse, you may choose your own affect: perhaps rapid, dense, and spiky, or slow, tranquil, and meditative. You may also choose whether to use conventional rhythmic notation or use a proportional notation (as in Music of Changes, Kontakte, or the other examples we've looked at in class).
Strategies for creating these kinds of "floating" rhythms include: using an extremely slow tempo; changing the meter with each new measure; using ties and rests to avoid locating attacks on the beat (especially on the downbeat); using accent, pitch contour, and other musical parameters to break up the impression of regular rhythmic groupings; and using proportional (spatial) notation which emphasizes rhythmic irregularity and aperiodicity. Together, Feldman's The Viola In My Life and Stockhausen's Kontakte illustrate all of these approaches (and more).
As with every etude you compose this semester, it may be helpful to limit the number of elements in the piece, in order to concentrate attention on the rhythmic aspects, and to create a satisfying and balanced piece within a short timespan. How you define that limited vocabulary is up to you - you might choose a small repertoire of pitches, a handful of musical gestures or melodic ideas, a certain kind of accompaniment or textural pattern, etc. etc. ....
Some basic information about the piano:
Try not to be limited by your own abilities at the keyboard - concert pianists are capable of phenomenal things! And as always, have fun with this - be as imaginative, free, and outrageous as you can....