Composition No. 23C is an additive repetitive structure for extended interpretation that was composed in 1973.  Originally this work was undertaken to provide the widest possible range of procedure operatives for my creative quartet series of interchangeable works.  yet the reality dynamics of Composition No. 23C is not a vehicle for extended improvisation in the same sense as other works from that context—nor does the work serve to activate 'particular terms' to establish open improvisational procedure dynamics.  Instead Composition No. 23C is an isolated thematic generating structure that utilizes additive repetition as the basis for exploration dynamics.  I have used this work as a means to provide the widest possible spectrum for master structure live performances.  In other words the reality of Composition No. 23C's operating criterion represents a departure from the normal terms of my creative quartet in terms of the type of the diversity it brings to the music.  To experience this work is not to hear a given theme and variation (which for this series is extended improvisation) nor does the work function as a language or operational factor.  Instead Composition No. 23C is designed to interrupt the normal continuum of the music—in its master structure invention—and re-establish its own conceptual focus.  The reality of this work has moved to solidify alternative focuses for my work in the quartet context—and while doing so also present new challenges for the future.  Composition No. 23C is dedicated to the great athlete Willie Mays.

By the term additive repetition I am referring to the material and procedure nature of Composition No. 23C.  The work is designed as an extended phrase that is progressively revealed in a series of twenty-one repeats.  The nature of these repetitions involves starting from the beginning of the music and gradually through repetition in effect creating what is a 'linear connected phrase'.  However the second half of the composition acts as a disintegration factor to these same principles and in doing so broadens the whole canvas of the greater music—both conceptually and dynamically.  From phrase sequence until the end of Composition No. 23C opposition moves to dominate the note to note infrastructure and shape contour of the music.  In this context the melodic and vibrational harmonic continuum of Composition No. 23C is altered and finally completely opened up.  Where in the beginning the listener could hear a logically unfolding composition that with each repetition extended its principle material focus, suddenly evolving into a work whose shape become angular and tonally non-harmonic (in its gravallic contour and vibrational sense).  Composition No. 23C has been designed to continually surprise and enrich its instrumentalist and listener.  The reality of this work moves to expand the conceptual area of creative music and it is for this reason that I have grouped this work in my quartet music book.

Composition No. 23C is an isolated generating structure in that the reality of its procedure dynamics are separate from my coordinate music pedagogy—and is not transferable in the master structure of a given multi-structural performance.  In other words the work offers no language or procedure context for extended participation to be housed in an extended multi-presentation (as is the case with all of the other structures in my creative quartet music).  Instead the reality and implication of Composition No. 23C is self contained in that it offers an operational criterion that is stated and inflexible—to be executed as designed without elaboration (by the composite ensemble).  To perform this work involves accepting its rigorous limitations as a separate factor form the general master structure continuance of the music—and herein lies its significances (in the greater reality of the composite music).  I have used Composition No. 23C as an alternative device to balance the focus dynamics of my quartet pedagogy.  In a continuum that extends and promotes limitation, and in a pedagogy that invites self realization, Composition No. 23C provides group consciousness.  I believe the significance of extended creativity necessitates the widest possible operating criterion—and this is a challenge that creative music continually re-address.  The reality of this work functions as a factor to broaden the total music—for the listener as well as the principal canvas of the music.

Composition No. 23C is constructed in one movement—to be performed without any breaks (or stops) from beginning to end.  In actual terms the work consists of one long extended line that is executed in unison by the total ensemble—with the exception of percussion.  I have also indicated in the score that the percussionist has the option to openly improvise under the written material.  This has been how I have used the work in performance (with the conventional quartet).  Composition No. 23C was written exactly as I heard it during its moment construction and the work has no predetermined harmonic or serial devices in its material structure.  The work was conceived to be fitted into a given extended improvisation as needed—and can be utilized to fit the composite context of the music.  As such it can be performed one of several times in a given performance—or in rounds.  This is also the case with improvisation and (/or moment adjustments).  To really deal with the challenge of the work is not to limit its role in any one context.



Anthony Braxton, Composition Notes B (Frog Peak, 1988: 34-38)