Composition No. 26B is constructed to deal with the dynamics possibilities of staccato long and short sound movements.  The first treatment utilizes changes in intervals as a reality factor and is the primary shape (the staccato short sound in this context is also the principle language factor as well).  The second treatment for this principle utilizes the long staccato sound in an extended context—establishing the reality of the idea but functioning as one ingredient among many.  The third use of this principle is staccato permeutated type ideas which maintains the basic focus of constructed elements but not in a dominant manner.  The extended use of this approach also finds the use of melodic related like material put in juxtaposition to reverse development.  Again in this work there is no development as such, rather the natural continuance of its design moves to utilize principle material in as many ways as possible (for its moment improvisation).  The composition is dedicated to the saxophonist and composer Kallaparusha Difta.

Anthony Braxton, liner notes to Alto Saxophone Improvisation 1979 (Arista A2L 8602); also Composition Notes B (Frog Peak, 1988: 197)


Composition No. 26B is a language music generating structure that was composed in 1970 in Paris, France.  The completion of this work has provided a valuable platform for my understanding of extended solo music.  In this structure a whole new universe of sound is established through the use of the staccato long sounds (shapes)—as a principal material device that challenges what we think 'happened' (in the musical space).  Composition No. 26B seeks to clarify the actual possibilities of staccato devices as a means to help us reconsider this function in a new light.  The use of staccato long sounds in this context moves to reposition the center of an improvisation (affecting the nature of a given note to note specific in a given phrase statement).  In actual terms the work consists of visualizations that show the principle tendencies and shape pattern types of 'integrated' stacatto materials—and this foundation should establish an alternative procedure and creative task (challenge) for the creative instrumentalist.  As in all of the language music compositions, the material mix of Composition No. 26B is open to the moment—to be used in part or whole into any part of an improvisation.  The duration of a given performance depends on whatever one wants it to depend on.  Composition No. 26B is conceived for the new extended creative musician—as a forum to explore the dynamic implication of stacatto related material (and what this means for postulation dynamics).  The work is dedicated to the instrumentalist/composer Kallaparush Difta.

Composition No. 26B consists of 5 primary construction criterions that serve as regions of exploration.  Those criterions are (1) the use of multiphonically integrated phrase types (2) the use of multiphonic high sounds as a isolated section (3) the use of dimensionality (4) the use of quick register changes—from very high to very low and (5) the changing rate of attacks as a means to establish dimensionality.  Any attempt to comment on the nature of this work must include some insight about how these criterions are interwoven to make a 'real' music.  For in looking at this work we are not only viewing a prism of shapes that look nice (or not nice).  The challenge of this work is not separate from what creativity really is.

The first criterion—the use of multiphonics in the infra reality of Composition No. 23B's construction dictates—involves how materials can be approached (and with how much flexibility).  With this approach the instrumentalist is asked to utilized the voice in the 'seat' of his/her sound as a secondary idea approach factor—to be considered in the moment nature of the music.  What this means is that the stacatto long sound can be used as broad canvas—that emphasizes its own separate nature as well as a multi complexual universe that contains many new kinds of sounds (floating in and out of the 'fish bowl' nature of the approach)—(the percussion and keyboard instruments' have this same criterion—to be utilized as a timberal factor and/or vocal factor—depending on the musicians).  An example of how this criterion looks in actual terms is: (see No. 1).  To really function of this operative is to find another universe—because under this procedure type there are always several different music focuses happening at once.  The stacatto long sound is utilized as a backdrop that defines the nature of its vocal presence—(which actually isn't perceived as a vocal presence by the listener—but in fact functionally that is the role being performed).

The second criterion involves the use of high note multiphonics as an isolated focus to be explored.  In this section the instrumentalist is expected to utilize the staccato long sound principal in the upper registers (regions) of his/her instrument.  In this world can be put short phrase bursts within a unified timberal sound field—as a holding pattern that can be used to highlight the thrust of the music (invention dynamics).  This is so because the nature of this region has its own special identity—and challenge.  The dynamics for this section is a uniform pianissimo that seeks to clarify its individual nature (from the composite structure) and this must also be the challenge of its interpreters.  I would ask each interpreter to create a very special universe with this section—'create a music that does nothing and yet holds our attention.'  When this is done correctly (understood) then the listener will recognize my words as true.

The third criterion of Composition No. 26B's language intermix involves the use of dimensionality as a procedure device to open the floor of the music.  In this new world, sounds and phrases are seen as separate from their linear interconnection—or continuous flow.  This state of being is brought about through the use of extreme dynamic shifts—from note to note or phrase to phrase.  With this technique the instrumentalist can whirl sounds through space—to create a multiple universe (that is fresh).  Dimensionality, as practiced in Composition No. 26B, should not be confused with pointillism or serialism—as practiced from the post Webern or Carter schools.  The concept of dimensionality that enumerates from the work calls for the use of projected 'emphasis' in a way that 'affirms' one universe (but suggested several).  With in the wall of that universe there are many different factors not normally associated with the established university viewpoint about 'depth'.  In the ten years (and some) that I have been performing this structure—devices like isolated ballade phrases that are buried beneath the surface of the music; gravallic phrase construction dictates (that adhere to its own tendencies) and extended phrase construction in a super charged pulse vacuum.  The fourth criterion of this work contains the procedure dictates of the previous section and emphasizes the use of register changes as a factor that creates a 'bubbling like' universe (that changes parts—material—as opposed to specific phrases).  The dynamic structuring process of the section is very distinct from the previous section of Composition No. 26B.  In criterion four phrases can be pursued from a fortissimo mentality and altered if need be for contrast.  This option is very important for the reality focus of a given phrase has many different possibilities and can take on many different disguises (and purposes).  THe extended use of the criterion moves to give use new insights about primary material (which in this case is the staccato long sound)—and naturally leads us into the final criterion of diversified sound attacks.  When the reality of dimensionalism is secured there are many different possibilities that can take place—involving sound (material) principles and systemic attempts to 'portray' something.  To understand the implications of this phenomenon is to view what takes place when the stacatto long sound, which is the principle material basis of this work, is approached only with respect to its rate attack.  Suddenly the principle in this context moves to establish a whole new kind of sound space.  In visual terms that space would look like this.

The use of different pulse rates (tempos)—as applied to the stacatto long sound in this manner) moves to create a dotted universe that pulsates to 'other variables' (that have nothing to do with what we call music).  With this principle we can view the role of 'macro pulse continuum' as a structurally diverse phenomenon that can aid us in our search for discovery.

Composition No. 26B is written as an interlinking language generating structure in connection with the composite body of works that form my language music pool of construction material.  All of the visual structures that form the body of this work can be arranged in any order (including no order).  The music that solidifies from this work will have no theme—in the sense of how the word is viewed in this period—but will instead establish its own terms (and order).  Each of the various principles that underlie Composition No. 26B can be used for as long as necessary.  Composition No. 26B was conceived as a response to language music pedagogy and the challenge of architectural dynamics.        

  

Anthony Braxton, Composition Notes B (Frog Peak, 1988: 197-203)