UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Composition recital Steenhuisen, Paul Brendan Allister


The thesis is a concert of seven original musical compositions presented in the Recital Hall of the U.B.C. School of Music on February 18, 1990. NON TI RICORDl NON TI RICORDl was written for a sextet of clarinet, two percussionists, piano, violin, and cello, and is an exploration of the vast timbral possibilities of this heterogenous ensemble. In visual arts, colours are mixed, juxtaposed, and isolated; similarly, in NON TI RICORDl the timbres of the individual instruments and combinations of instruments are used to emphasize the form and highlight important points in the piece. The title, which means "I don't remember you", is taken from a painting by Francesco Clemente. The painting contains the bust of a man who, from the chin up, is transformed into a mountain. In keeping with the metamorphosis in the painting, the motive of NON TI RICORDl is stated virtually unchanged throughout the first six minutes of the piece (despite the continuous rhythmic and timbral development), after which it is gradually transformed, until no longer recognizable, in the concluding two minutes. STIPE STIPE means tree trunk, and is my representation of the strength and density of construction that is seen when examining the trunk of a healthy tree. The short chords which punctuate the silence of the opening form a harmonic cycle in which the intervals of the chords expand outward, much like the age-rings of a tree. Each successive section of the piece is a cyclic, ordered progression through one of the harmonies stated in the introduction. On a more local level, an important element of the work is gestural similarity -a quick flourish at the outset is the basis of all subsequent melodic material, often developed through registral expansion. STIPE won first prize in the 1989 Vancouver New Music Society Competition for Young Composers, and was premiered on their concert "WORKS- RECENT DISCOVERIES". WIRE Manipulations of natural sound sources form the majority of the material for this electroacoustic composition. Breaking glass, squeaking bicycle brakes, fireworks, wooden blocks, and rain are just a few of the sounds that were transformed by altering their length, pitch, volume, and envelope. Multiple layers of these timbres were combined with sounds generated on synthesizers to create an exciting and colourful sound world. With its use of both analog and digital synthesizers, musique concrete techniques, digital sampling, and sound sculpting, WIRE can be seen as an overview of many of the techniques utilized in electroacoustic music since its origin in France in the 1940's. This eleven-minute work was composed in the University of British Columbia's Electroacoustic Music Studio. TWO RIVERS The initial inspiration for this seven-minute piece for chamber choir was the choral music of my former composition teacher, Dr. Stephen Chatman. The piece begins in the conservative tonal language found in much of his choral music, but through the addition of clashing tones, becomes non-tonal. Throughout the work one can hear a smooth movement between these seemingly disparate approaches, and at times the traditional textures coexists with the more chaotic textures. Overall, however, there is a gradual transformation from a clearly contrapuntal area to one of aleatoric sound blocks. TWO RIVERS won first prize in the choral category of the 1989 Performing Rights Organization of Canada's Competition for Young Composers. AMARANTH This four-movement work for solo cello is the longest piece on the program, lasting sixteen minutes. Each movement concentrates on a different form of the pitch-motive and explores one of the many extended techniques possible on the instrument, such as multiple-stops, pizzicato, sul ponticello, and col legno. The title refers to an imaginary flower that never fades away. This idea is represented in the music by the frequent reference to the primary melodic motive. As well, each movement (Ka, Golden Wave, Elatum, and Nova) is named after a flower which blooms in one season. The complete cycle represents one year of continuous presence and growth. DEEP MOUNTAIN DEEP MOUNTAIN is a twelve-minute electroacoustic work, and is the result of my study of computer applications to music with Dr. Keith Hamel. One of the topics covered was sound synthesis, more specifically the generation of complex sounds from a personal computer. Procedures for the synthesis of these sounds were written in the Object Logo programming language. After being generated, the sounds were then transferred digitally to a sampler, after which I began composing the piece. Using multi-track recording equipment, synthesized sounds from a Macintosh computer, and a number of environmental sounds, DEEP MOUNTAIN was composed in the Electroacoustic Music Studio at the University of British Columbia. It was a selected work in the 17th International Electroacoustic Music Competition in Bourges, France. THRESHOLDS When composing THRESHOLDS (written for two horns, four trumpets, two trombones, bass trombone, tuba, and two pianos), two compositional elements were at the forefront of my technical concerns. The first was to approach the work from a cinematic standpoint- the pitches would be organized in a recognizable, coherent manner, yet the textures and moods would change quite rapidly, much like the quick cuts and changes of scene one finds in films. The other important factor in this work was my desire to control strictly the emphasis which was to be placed on certain notes- even though there would be a high number of pitches present throughout most of the piece, the function of each pitch would be clearly defined. With such a powerful ensemble, doubling two or more instruments on a single pitch or rhythm can very subtly draw attention to one line, placing others in the background and thus creating a hierarchy within the ensemble. The aural result is seven minutes of multi-levelled, harmonically rich and dynamic music which enables the ensemble to display its virtuosity.

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