UBC Theses and Dissertations
Ring : for orchestra and antiphonal women’s choir Gerhold, John Alan
Ring is a composition for orchestra (piccolo [doubling flute], two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets in B-flat, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contra-bassoon, four horns, four trumpets, two tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, three percussion parts [including glockenspiel, vibraphone, tubular bells, snare drum, toms, bass drum, suspended cymbal, drum kit, triangle, and gong], timpani, harp, piano, and standard strings) and spatially separated women's choir (SA right, SA left). This arrangement of media is intended to "ring" the audience with performers. At the notated tempo of two quarter-notes per second, the duration of the piece is exactly 17'40". The title of Ring comes from a poem of the same name written by the composer which is the principal text sung by the choir in the piece. The text of the poem is as follows: Wendy is a ring / A beginning and an end / Connected / The finest gold / Melted by touch / Cooled by breath / She fits my every finger / Without constraint / But permanent / Priceless, Precious, Beautiful / Alone / She clothes me. The poem and composition were written for, and dedicated to, the composer's wife. The ring metaphor ("ring" meaning cyclical, unending, complete) underlies many of the compositional choices in the work. Much of the surface of the music and its deeper structural elements are palindromes, which, because they end as they begin, have a circular nature. Also, the pitch structure of the piece involves the climactic completion of the "cycle" of the twelve available equal-tempered pitch classes. A further organizational element is the Fibonacci series, a mathematical construct which is used to determine small-scale rhythms and the duration of the larger sections of the work. These components, taken together, have resulted in a composition filled with variety and contrasts, which, nonetheless, is quite organically cohesive.
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