Composition No. 23G was composed in the fall of 1975 in the Black Forest in West Germany. The basic idea of this work was to create a composition which utilized the traditional 'line' phrase concept but with an added arhythmic gravallic basic. In other words, the basic thrust of this composition is constructed with respect to a given tempo but the accompanied figure that underlines its use is constructed so as to give the impression of being slightly off center. The effects of this 'time shifting' moves to give the work a character of its own and while doing so also establishes the working dictates that determines what solo ingredients can be successfully utilized. This is not to say that the soloists are instructed to 'postulate' their creativity in any particular way—because they aren't. Rather, the use of this technic presents a challenge that each individual must solve creatively in his or her own way.
The use of 'time-shifting' also presents a particular challenge for the rhythm section (which in this work does function as a support unit over which solo explorations are postulated). For the particulars of this approach are not simply to be played as written, and the rhythm section is encouraged to 'play in the spaces of the music'. In the final analysis, this approach moves to create an extended rhythmic track (that shifts so gradually it will be difficult for the listener to determine its sequences) which calls for the use of improvisation with the added ingredient of irregular accents—which are structured (making the work a truly composed improvisational music). Add to this mixture the inclusion of accelerandos and ritards and the listener can begin to view the dynamics of this composition.
The harmonic reality of Composition No. 23G is constructed to utilized chromatic sequenced modulation phrases through its entirely. Also several sections of this work are voiced in minor seconds (something I have experienced many times in the music of Thelonius Monk and Steve Lacy—two musicians who I have long admired) and this technique has a very interesting effect on the vibrational hue of the piece. Even though, on the surface Composition No. 23G seems to not have a definite pulse designation, in actual fact the work was designed to utilize the medium fast to fast pulse velocity. In this version I have chosen the former (and toward the ending accelerated to 'fast pulse').
Composition No. 23G is a thematic generating structure for extended improvisation that was composed in 1975. The conceptual and scientific dynamics underlying this effect involves the use of extended and open structure devices as a factor to control—determine—the nature of its musical canvas. This is true for both the procedure implication of its design as well as for how that procedure determines the focus and 'identify type' of the music. Composition No. 23G is an interchangeable multi-structure that can be utilized as is or within my coordinate music series of quartet works. The reality of this effort must be viewed from what position it has in that total series of works, because the procedure implications of Composition No. 23G solidifies as a response to the conceptual focus and terms of that context. Composition No. 23G can be viewed as representing a combination of different approaches in that the material focus of its design is representative of my involvement with phrase grouping lines as a platform for dynamics invention and at the same time the infrastructure dictates of the work advance my interest in extended structuralism, because Composition No. 23G can be viewed from the context of a traditional structure—that advances the same fundamentals of post-be-bop pedagogy (that being the use of linear phrase construction in the be-bop language focus—and feeling—and the use of ensemble lines as a generating tool for extended improvisation) as well as a restructuralist—or non-traditional—form that advances new contexts for both control and alternative conceptual focuses. The completion of this effort would establish fresh insight into the challenge of alternative functional—both for sound architecture and instrumentalism. Composition No. 23G is dedicated to the master of children's television, Mr. Roberts.
The notated material that forms the basis of Composition No. 23G has separate parts for both its upper and lower voices (that being, in this case—between the horns and rhythm section)—as opposed to the use of 'open embellishment' given to the string bass and percussion. The combination of elements in this case involve the use of linear post-be-bop-like phrases played by the horns (upper voices) that are suspended over 'irregular time pulse patterns' played in the rhythm section. The integration of these focused language types serves to change the total landscape of the music—on many different levels. Composition No. 23G can be viewed as an extended post-Coleman vehicle for solo postulation that also introduces additional criteria in its own pedagogy. To experience this work is to hear a music quite different from the post-be-bop or post-Coleman dynamics. The combination of its two language types open a new terrain for creative music—changing both the construction implication of linear phrase positioning as well as its extended treatment. It is from this point that Composition No. 23G can be analyzed.
The composite form of Composition No. 23G is A B C D E A and the construction particulars of each section can better clarify the nature of its total design. Section A introduces the first thematic material and establishes the vibrational and conceptual nature of the music. This section consists of a sixteen-bar statement that contains four linear sequenced musical phrases. The material is designed to be played in unison by the horns (with octave and isolated harmonic voicings written for the trumpet in several small sections). All of this is suspended over a time shifting pattern played in this rhythm section. By the term 'time shifting' I am referring to the use of rhythmic pattern that contains structures ('sound points') that are played in unison by the percussionist and string bass. These 'points' make up total language and generating foundation for Composition No. 23G. In actual terms the of 'sound point' I am referring to are quarter note entries notated under the linear phrased melodic material. I have structured this material in this manner to establish alternative positioning and interaction. The concept of time shifting in Composition No. 23G is utilized as a gravallic factor that changes phrase continuity—and weight—of the music. In doing so this technique moves to establish alternative terms for both the nature of Composition No. 23G's constructive dictates as well as its interpretation. All of these factors are established in Section A.
Section B is a nine-bar phrase designed as a bridge section between Sections A and C. This phrase is a unison notated rhythm track played by the rhythm section (or lower voice) only. Conceptually Section B moves to clarify the nature of Composition No. 23G's material design by accenting the use of this language and operational criterion—yet there are particular factors in this section that can be commented on. For the most basic factor that sustains the time shifting technique of Composition No. 23G is the use of quarter note 'point' devices—under both the written music (that comprises the 'head' of the music) and its extended treatment through improvisation (—especially solo improvisation). Section B clarifies the nature of this approach by avoiding the same material particulars yet achieving the same results. Rather than revert to the use of quarter note 'points' (which are indigenous to three fourths of the written music) Section B is comprised of longer durations (i.e. dotted half notes, half notes and/or dotted quarter notes that are slurred or positioned to re-emphasize a divergent time environment). By doing so Section B moves to clarify both the thematic and rhythmic (germ) generative aspects of Composition No. 23B.
Section C introduces the second notated statements of the work. This section has been designed to elaborate on the opening material in Section A rather than to re-introduce additional thematic focus. To view the components of this section is to see the same type of material as in Section A: only consisting of measures and linear phrases (played in unison by the horns with a farther clarification and expansion of the time shifting technique in the rhythm section).
Section D has been designed to isolate the 'principle motif' that underlies Composition No. 23G's construction dictates. That motif which is suggested, varied and/or inverted throughout the total notated material—is a five-note figure that consists of four eighth notes and one quartet note (see Figure A). This five-note figure is the backbone of every phrase construction in Composition No. 23G. Section D has been designed to isolate the use of this figure as a means to clarify its procedure (with the use of a more stabilized gravallic base that suddenly accents the same part of its shape for brief moments—contrasted to the normal flow of the work's basic design where multiple procedures don't allow for 'continuous fixed interrelation' between the two voices. Section D is designed to establish the principle motivic ingredients of the music.
Section E is a bar rhythmic track that prepares re-entry into Section A. This section could be viewed as a turnback figure that structurally produces a smooth return to the composition's beginning.
Composition No. 23G is a fast pulse structure for extended improvisation in the tradition of Trans African pedagogy. This is true even though the music might appear to be 'open' (or free of metric continuity). The composition has been designed for the traditional soloist rhythm section alignment—but the work has no over-structure marking for its soloists, only for its rhythm section. In other words, the rhythm section in Composition No. 23G is given an additional time shifting rhythmic track to be executed during its extended treatment (under the soloists). The use of this additive moves to give the work a special focus and environment that is very separate from post-Coleman/Ayler functionalism.
Composition No. 23G was composed from material and language specifics in moment time as I heard it. The work contains no real harmonic system nor were any serial techniques utilized in its construction. Section D was designed with minor second voicings in the horn parts only as a color consideration and this was also the case with deviations in the upper voice phrase shapes (notes and voicings).