Kaleidoscope: 23 Miniatures After Haiku
This piece is a companion piece to my piece “Mosaic,” which was for the first version of Minim om the CD "Quicksilver." The idea was to use the same form of a piece comprised of a group of 23 miniatures for small improvising ensemble. Like the first piece, I wanted to have an ensemble an ensemble in which I would be able to utilize some of the “prepared bass” and less “bass-like” techniques that I had been using for a number of years. Where “Mosaic” (and Minim 1) was for a quartet violin, flutes, vibraphone/percussion, and contrabassguitars, “Kaleidoscope” is for a quartet of clarinets, bassoon, marimba/percussion, and contrabassguitars—yielding a darker and woodier texture.
Again, the pieces are based on haiku; rather than choosing specific poems, however, I chose to base the pieces on some of the syllabic rules of haiku—while hopefully achieving some of the brevity, feeling and wonder that one experiences from reading this sort of poem.
As such, these 23 pieces are all based on the number 17—a piece may have 17 measures, thematic material made up of 17 notes, etc. The overall piece is structured to have a solo piece (four) for each member of the quartet; a duet and trio for the different possible groupings in the quartet (six and four, respectively); and nine pieces for the full quartet. I tried to have contrasting sections and parts that referred back to other parts of the overall piece, and to evoke differing moods and emotions throughout.
The Cherry Blossom Is Only Perfect When It’s Falling from the Tree
This piece is based on the structure of a terza rima: a scheme of A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D, etc., with each formal section in 5 syllables each. In this case, I have “cells” of 5-note chords, where each chord represents one of the formal sections (A, B, C, etc.), that I have then treated in a more or less serial fashion in 13 discrete sections. That is, each written section of the piece uses only those 10 notes that occur from the succession of two 5-note chords, though they are reordered or split between the various players. Again, I have split the quartet that performs the piece into some of its component parts and attempted to have contrasting sections. Whereas Kaleidoscope is played in 23 sections with breaks, this piece is performed as one continuous whole. The over all piece is a harmonic palindrome (A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D, E-F-E, F-G-F, G-H-G, F-G-F, E-F-E, D-E-D, C-D-C, B-C-B, A-B-A).
This piece was written for choreographer/dancer Shuriu Lu (formally Belinda Cheng). The title comes from a passage by Jorge Luis Borges. It is basically a non-specific requiem of sorts (as the title would imply) and utilizes more “extended techniques” than most of my writing.