Composition No. 56 is a slow pulse environment for the creative improvising orchestra that was composed in 1975. In this work sound moments are stretched to form fresh terrains for creative exploration and perception. Composition No. 56 is conceived as a direct entrance into the depth of time/space—as this phenomenon relates to sound awareness and purpose. This is not a complex work that contains thousands of notes and/or precision multi-structures, nor does Composition No. 56 seek to provide terms for extended individual solo realization (involvement), rather the work is conceived to establish a way of perceiving sound distance and inner purpose. Composition No. 56 is a light structural universe that emphasizes the greater vibrational reality of the music—as it concerns the composite ensemble (rather than 'the glorious soloist'). In this sound state will be found crystals of sound spots and vibrational richness—as if in a dream state. All events in this context come slowly into fruition because there is 'all time' in Composition No. 56—that being, in this work objects (thoughts) are moving so fast it appears to be slow—or the slowest. The instrumentalist in Composition No. 56 is expected to separate his musical viewpoint into its actual notes (primary idea) and 'what really matters.' Perceived events in this sound environment seem to drift into the sound space almost lifelessly—there are no 'tautes' here. Composition No. 56 is a sea of drifting sounds that flows into the greater space of the music. This is a tone poem kind of sound environment that is smoky in nature (as if existing in some kind of fog or something) and dreamlike in appearance. The reality of this work is not separate from the post-Webern and AACM continuums of creative music. It is from these efforts that the extended pulse and material scan of present-day creative music can be viewed. The use of 'no pulse' continuance (which is really the case in this work) coupled with the need for great sound spaces (silences) serves to establish a unique and dynamic platform for creative participation. Composition No. 56 is a long sound space environment that contains positioned sound complexes (lines) in its infrastructure. All of this material is presented as a means to enhance the 'act' of invention—rather than point 'the way' of involvement. This is a 'secret' for the instrumentalist and listener alike. 'Listen to the one who had the best opportunity but did not take it.' Composition No. 56 is dedicated to [blank]
Composition No. 56 is a network of extended structural tendencies that establishes terms for dynamic involvement. The work consists of five principal structures that are linked together to form a unified continuum (and vibrational viewpoint). The actual procedure continuance of the work advances very subtlely—so that all principle structures have a 'meshed' quality that clouds entrances and departures. Composition No. 56 proceeds in a kind of static continuum—as if standing on a mountain watching the evening shadows extend across the terrain. All events in the work are presented very delicately—so as to not disturb either the instrumentalist or the listener. This is a sound world of light flashes—and deception. The actual component breakdown of Composition No. 56—as extracted from the basic structures in its composite form—establishes fourteen primary and secondary events for the ingredients of the music. From this material are positioned twenty time point cues that regulate the composite 'executions' of the music. A given performance of Composition No. 56 establishes the realness of spatial and vibrational continuance—and in doing so provides a unique context for dynamic involvement.
The composite form spread design of Composition No. 56 is A (S) B (S) (B2) C (S2) D (S) E (S2) A2 (S) and it is from this context that the work can be discussed. Section A introduces the primary material basis of the music—as a means to establish the tone and focus of the music. That material consists of a three-note motive sound that repeats three times (with an additional response that provides harmonic and/or structural presence to the greater space of the music). The use of this concept is orchestral in two basic components—the first of which being the use of the woodwind section for the opening three-note sound focus and the second concept involves the additional use of the brass section (music) for the use of long sound construction beams positioned under the motive. Section A was conceived as a smooth sound state that emphasizes the nature of the sound space. This is a music of dark sound beams that light into the composite visible space (always with one long sound treading into the 'deep' of the music). In the second component of Composition No. 56 there is the dynamic use of collective (and later solo) improvisation—as a means to breathe into the music—and become involved. Collective improvisation is valued in this work because the nature of this context transcends what any one person can do (or know). Improvisation in this context is not about who you are (or aren't, for that matter), rather Composition No. 56 was conceived as a crack in the sound space—into the void. There should be no excitement in this world of sound, nor should we be disturbed by some fellow's impression of who he wishes he were. Composition No. 56 has no time for our feelings—at all! The challenge of involvement for this context moves into the 'moment spot' of the time and the realness of intention.
Sections B and E introduce the use of multiple phrase grouping complexes into the music as a secondary language component for the composite structure. This material was perceived in the same sense as a light formation that comes in and out of view. There are no extended musical statements (in a linear sense) that clarify the thrust (flow) of the music, rather the use of multiple phrase grouping constructions (lines) in this context are used to decorate the space of the music for the creative instrumentalist (sound traveler). Both Sections B and E can be viewed as 'sound line' material that was perceived as a unified complex of intentions. There are sign posts on the highway of the structure—to be vibrationally received by the 'doctors of the moment' (instrumentalists) without necessarily having to respond too quickly. This is a constant throughout the composite form of the music. Composition No. 56 is a state of being that doesn't develop but rather, 'moves forward' (as all things must finally). For the participating instrumentalist this work can be viewed as a series of involvements that necessitates patience and growth. A given performance of the work changes 'nothing' (for 'nothing').
Moment progressionalism in Composition No. 56 utilizes both conventional and regulated notation—depending on what section is focused on. This is so because the dynamic spread of the work transcends any one criterion. Traditional notation is utilized for all of the written pitch specifics because of the significance of 'sound positioning' (and the role this function has for both fixed and complex sound environments). In the first context, fixed sound block material can be equally fitted into the sound space, even when the composite space has open moment specifics (i.e. engaged open improvisation or a dialogue already in place)—as a means to make the 'intention' (idea) as accurate (effective) as possible. This is especially important in the sense of unison note changes and balance. In the second context traditional notation allows for the possibility to place specific moments in a multi-context of sound lines and relationships. This can be better understood by viewing the dynamic implications of complex sound formations and inter-formations (and what this means for establishing given positioned sounds—to get a particular result). All of this precision is secured in a simultaneous sound environment that also contains open space and open space continuums. Composition No. 56 is an expansive universe of sound and double sound universes that can be fitted into the space of the music. The reality of this situation moves to promote a sound space that contains both metric and open sound (and invention) tendencies.
Composition No. 56 is an extended space for collective and solo improvisation for the needs of the dynamic creative orchestra. Live electronics is used in this work as a sound fabric consideration that floats in the space of the sound (this is true even in the designated solo section constructed just for the snthesizer). All solos in this work are presented 'under' the surface of the music—so as to not make too much fuss about 'somebody's idea!' To really experience (perform) this work is to not really know that someone has just soloed. We are concerned only with impressions here. The basic volume (sound volume) of Composition No. 56 is pianissimo and softer for the whole of the music. Of course in the realness of the moment it is understood that 'breathing' (in the act of improvisation and/or living) will disrupt to some extent the contour of preconceived sound volume. Composition No. 56 was conceived as a moment in time that pauses—to let us catch our breath. Too often in this time period we tend to confuse movement and excitement with 'real'—and this is not always the case. In this work I wanted to construct a clear universe of sound sculpture that can be entered without any kind of fear or discomfort. There are no perceived 'varieties' that give recompense to those who want to 'show us something about themselves.' No, Composition No. 56 is a haven for those of us who might need to lean back and compare notes (every once in a while).
Composition No. 56 was composed in conjunction with a recording date that materialized in the spring of 1976 for Arista Records. I composed this structure with respect to what I felt would be an interesting mixture of works for a recording. At this point in time (1983) I do not believe the work has ever been publicly performed.