Composition No. 37 was composed in September 1974 in Woodstock, New York. The basic idea in this structure has to do with the repeated long sound and the variation possibilities of a four-note cycle. The four principle sounds utilized in this piece are B A G D and the resultant sonorities are based on inversion only. Composition No. 37 is constructed in four zones—each of which determines a particular variation of this principle. The first zone employs acceleration as the chief distinguishing motif and it is in this section (lettered A) where all of the subsequent variations can be understood. There are two sections of improvisation in this piece (each improvisation is controlled through the use of 'cell structures'). The second zone (lettered B) utilizes the long attacked sound with special interest in a revolving tonal center moving into an improvisation. The improvisation after Section B is governed by a medium slow pulse factor. All of the notes in Section B are played on cue (and this is time for the release too). Zone C continues the germ for the last open improvisation (which is governed in this section by a fast pulse flow) and accents the basic theme of what is implied in repetition on one note. This approach is also subjected to weight shifts as a means to accent timbre (Section D). The piece is scored for four saxophones: sopranino, alto, tenor and baritone.
Composition No. 37 is an extended structure for saxophone quartet. The reality of the effort is conceived as a dynamic platform that opens fresh challenges for saxophomatic dynamics and/or timbred implications. In this work four saxophonists are challenged to create a world of music that employs several different disciplines and multi-disciplines. Composition No. 37 is an extended structure that is scored from beginning to end. The reality of this forum indicates the terms of its events by regulating the operatives of each forward time parameter (specifics) as well as moment dynamics (in general). This can be understood by viewing the nature of the music because Composition No. 37 is constructed with both cell structure and regulated notation. The combination of both structural systems moves to solidify a special platform for creative participation. Composition No. 37 is designed to participate in the dynamics of extended material implications as a basis to better understand horizontal continuity (rather than 'development' which sometimes can be too ambiguous). With this effort the world of saxophone music can become more real to our lives—so that we can better see the special value that all instruments must have—by virtue of (its) existence. The work is an attempt to provide dynamic 'spaces' in the timbred nature of creative music (for the music and for my own needs as a composer) as well as the 'moment nature' of the sound environment (for the music and for my own needs as an instrumentalist). A given performance of this effort should always reveal 'fresh' 'things' for us to experience—because the structure is perceived in positive terms as a response to the ever changing 'nature' of things. Composition No. 37 is dedicated to [blank]
Composition No. 37 is a dynamic structural platform not separate from the dictates of language music material dynamics. All of the materials used in this work were solidified first in my language music sound groupings (and classification) types and translated into a structural operating context. In other words the principle material basis of Composition No. 37 came from my solo saxophone music (which is a natural searching platform that represents the first degree—assimilation—of language music). The instrumentalist in Composition No. 37 is given language music sheets to interpret cell structure notation—and this material serves the same purpose as 'chord changes' (in vertical harmonic music). As such to experience the reality of Composition No. 37 is to experience a multiple universe of sound that involves material specifics—improvisation—structural points (and/or activation points) and fixed moments. The instrumentalist in this context is given new responsibilities—and new freedoms. The reality of this phenomenon is in accordance with the dictates of cell structure organizing techniques.
Composition No. 37 is a principle structure that establishes four primary components and divisions in its coordinate nature. The most basic idea in this work has to do with the repeated long sound—as a primary sound material in the music—and the variation possibilities of a four-note sound cycle. Both of these factors are calibrated throughout the whole of the work—in several different forms and/or moment types. The reality of Composition No. 37 involves how these principles are utilized throughout the 'interfeed' of the music (that being the interrelationship between fixed moment materials that are structural and material designated moments—which are transmitted as a vibrational complex that involves 'more' than the composer's 'necessarily limited' vision—in other words, two individuals 'on the phone' might possibly be able to 'see' more about this experience than only one person). The composite experience of Composition No. 37 transcends the concept of one person's creation. Instead this effort must be viewed from the context of Trans African functional dictates, because to experience this work is to hear a composed improvised music—and by nature this combination must include the input of all of its contributors.
The harmonic nature of Composition No. 37 involves the use of a four note system as a basis for the composite timbre of the music, those pitches being B A G and D. All of the notated chords in this work consist of three or four of these pitches—in a given chord or chord inversion. The four note principle that is used in Composition No. 37 is consistent with the four principal sections of the music. Composition No. 37 is a combination of interlanguage parameters and extended structural devices—as opposed to the concept of the totally notated and/or open music space. This is a work that can be fit into the 'space' of the music without regard for some preconceived 'empirical' moment (established through the use of fixed metric time calculations and/or processes—traditional notation). Ensemble long sounds in this work are held until the next time cue (without regard for an overstructure time regulator). This is a special universe of sound that establishes the concept of 'rigidity and dynamism' without ever becoming overly procedural (in the strict sense of application dictates).
The composite form of Composition No. 37 is A (1+2+3) B (B2) C D (1+2+3) and the breakdown of each section establishes its own use of long sound staccato invention dynamics. Section A is a three-part structure with six interdivisions in its moment breakdown and/or type. The beginning of the work opens with the principal phrase of the music—which is followed by the establishment of the staccato long sound language principle (positioned in Concert B and approached from the context of acceleration). Section A also contains the first extended improvisation section in Composition No. 37. Improvisation in this context is coordinated through cell structured language design systems that isolate what 'sound approaches' can be used (as opposed to what scale systems). In Section A the composite musical space is designed to operate at a medium slow pulse (interaction between instruments and/or the vibrational intention implications of 'postulation') so that the nature of its material components can be slowly absorbed into solidifying a 'unified personality'. In this sound space the instrumentalists are allowed to establish the vibrational nature of their collective identity. The transition of Section A into the next area of the music is accomplished by establishing a multi-focus sound space that includes extended language improvisation (from the baritone saxophone) and the use of regulated notation chords (and time points) played by the remaining instruments. When this section is executed the velocity dynamics (as well as focus) of Composition No. 37 is changed and prepared for the next cycle.
Section B consists of one extended language improvisation and one set of regulated chord entrances. The basic pulse of this sound area is 'of a more lively nature' than Section A (and each instrumentalist is given a new point (or language specific) to use as 'center material' for improvisation. For the most part the actual reality of a given improvisation in Composition No. 37 involves the reality and interrelationship of each musician to each musician. Cell structure notation is used in this work to isolate only the material specifics of each instrumentalist's idea criterion—but the actual 'moment invention' of the music is open to whatever happens in the 'space' of the experience. What we have here is a kind of improvisational material discipline that gives us new 'things' to look at. The second half of Section B consists of a ten-chord long sound sequence that is to be executed in unison. The basis of this chord material involves the use of inversion as a means to portray vibrational diversity (variation). In this way the four-note material basis of Composition No. 37 is allowed to generate its own inherent dynamics (without changing the coordinates of the composite structural specifics). Chords in this section are 'attacked' and reshifted—on occasion—as a means to portray 'suspension.' The reality of this section moves to reinstate the focus of the music both conceptually and materially.
There is no notated material in Section C at all. The emphasis in this section is directed instead to improvisation and improvisation types. Section C is conceived as a 'space' that is relevant for Composition No. 37. This section consists of two language improvisations in fast pulse velocity (both of which must be completed in from three to six minutes—the second improvisation must be faster than the first). The reality of this phenomenon is in accordance to the dictates of language music pedagogy (and what this discipline poses to both the instrumentalist and the actual music). It is in this section that the instrumentalist is able to transcend the 'impurities of the moment' and become 'the music' (rather than 'play' the music). This is so because Section C was conceived as a platform to extend into the next aspect of the 'it'—and as such 'changes our attitudes (about 'participation').
The final section of Composition No. 37 is Section D. This is a world of notated principle sounds that involve regulated cueing devices (that make use of open time possibilities and fixed entrances) and open sound pitch indication (that ensure fresh sound presence and vibrational variety). Section D is constructed to solidify the last three aspect of Composition No. 37's language variation tenets (and/or purpose). That being—metric continuity sound shifts (as a basis for continuity) and isolated reshifting (as an extended device that clarifies the 'balance' of its material type—staccato long line material. Metric continuity in this context involves the use of quarter note repeating sounds (fixed note sounds) that are strongly accented (in the vibrational tradition of march music) and used to establish 'itself' as a 'space' in the music. The realness of this presence should clarify the opening focus (and feeling) of Composition No. 37 and vibrationally prepare us for the use of various types of permutational factors that disturb the perceived focus on the music (the first of which being the use of sound shifting techniques that gain significance because of what it implies to the staccato long sound focus). The concept of sound shifting used in Composition No. 37 involves the use of accented sound points as a basis to affect the perceived focus (and direction) of the music. In this context sound attack points are used to 'disguise' the moment by affecting our attention at the very moment 'something important' was changing. There are two aspects of this phenomenon—ensemble devices and individual devices. Each category affects the space of the music in its own way—one through the weight of a given exchange and the other through the subtlety of a given exchange. When the 'affair' is completed the principle of the music is allowed to continue on its own path (we have seen what we were looking for).
Composition No. 37 is a multiple platform for creative music that establishes its own reality context (for participation). The work uses both fixed and open clefs in its notated material (so that the music can continually be open for 'new' [not new] possibilities—for the instrumentalist and listener). The completion of this work is another effort to extend my understanding of the saxophone—as a dynamic instrument in its own right and as an especially important factor in my own life. This effort must be viewed from the context of Composition No. [blank] and my solo music material platform (i.e. language music). Composition No. 37 comes complete with four language charts for each musician to use in performance. This material can be used separate from the score (to create improvisational premises or focus specifics). I believe more works will appear in the future that will have the need for visual and horizontal structural devices—as a means to open the participation dynamics of creative music.
Composition No. 37 was composed in conjunction with a recording project in New York City. For that project the musicians were Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, Hamiet Blueit and myself. To date, as of this writing, Composition No. 37 has never been performed in public.