Composition No. 60 is an extended structure for clarinet and piano that was composed in 1976. I conceived this work as a multiple exchange sound environment that could give definition to collective and open improvisation. Composition No. 60 is an extended terrain of interlocking moments and phrase constructions that defines its own relationship with the sound space. This is not a single-line or material focus platform that exists as a single statement (for extended improvisation)—in the sense of a 'head' or 'thematic' sound environment. Rather Composition No. 60 is a series of structures and positioned sound moments that extend into the space of the music. This is a music that materialized because of my special love for post-Schoenberg/Coleman vibrational dynamics. Composition No. 60 is a one part chamber music/one part sound environment structure that can be approached from a wide spectrum of dispositions (and viewpoints). The reality of this work in conceived as a dynamic sound forum that gives special challenges to its instrumentalist. There are four primary notated regions in the work that integrate with three additional primary open improvisational sections—to form an expanded territory of creative strategies. Composition No. 60 is a material and principle generating structure for the needs of the expanding interpretive and/or improvisational musician. A given performance of this work moves to establish special regions for creative exploration (and involvement). The work is dedicated to [blank]
The structural reality components of Composition No. 60 break
down into A B C (O) D (C2) (O) E (O) F (O) G (O) G2 and it is from this point
that the work can be commented on. Section A consists of six phrase
grouping element (notated) moments that form the basic focus of the music.
This material can be viewed as the primary conceptual sound basis (component) of
the work (in the same sense as 'the concept of theme'). In Section A the
opening relationship that begins in grouping number two (on the fourth pitch—Bb—that
involves the simultaneous activation of long sound beams that swell as a
response to the overall thrust vibration of groupings one, two and three) is
the cornerstone of the music (state). It is the (sound) sweep of that
material (and its 'lines') that first excited my interest and desire to
establish Composition No. 60. Visually the reality of this phenomenon can
be viewed as such: [blank]
Section A is an all notated sound environment that defines the reality basis (and forward thrust) of Composition No. 60. I constructed this forum as a basis to continue the forward thrust of the music by expanding its material focus and nature. Section B consists of three phrase grouping statements—two of which are unison statements (and the third is a single statement response). Phrase grouping number one is a seven-note grouping (focus) that is central to the material reality and character of Composition No. 60. This is a secondary material component of the structure that is re-positioned into the extended thrust of the total form. In Section C the reality contour of Composition No. 60 opens to establish phrase motivic elements—as a device to establish the forward momentum of the music into open improvisation. Section C consists of seven individual phrase groupings (statements) that forward the thrust (perception continuance) of the music. The reality of this section can be viewed as a two-part structural curtain that breaks down into a single phrase grouping (complex)—for the piano (as a separate sound source in itself) and the use of unison phrase motif material (that serves as a secondary language component for the composite music). In its seven-component sense Section C can be viewed as a consistent sound forum that forwards the perceived thrust of Composition No. 60—into the final push towards the first open space (collective improvisation) section. Emphasis in this (sound) complex is centered on the use of two sound pitches—F# (emphasis) and A (emphasis). To experience the realness of this operative is to gain insight into the infra-reality tendencies of Composition No. 60. The actual seating of this material (F# and A) is positioned on top of a sound cluster (complex) that is repeated—in different forms—throughout the whole of the music. I conceived of this 'factor' as a bird-like passage that 'lights' in the sound space of the music—'something quick and real.' (My gradual awareness of this phenomenon—and the movements of birds—came about through discovering the music of Olivier Messiaen). In actual terms the unison phrase sequences (of groupings C3 and onward) move to establish a vibrational focus that can be utilized in the extended improvisation that immediately follows. This is an easy sound focus that can act as a wedge for invention dynamics.
Improvisation is Composition No. 60 is directed at the open tendencies of the music—as a basis for free association (alignment)—concerning material integration (what parts of the structure, if any, are to be utilized in the improvisation—moment focus—of the music) and vibrational integration. The composite structure of Composition No. 60 is conceived as a unified sound forum that pre-establishes all creative terms (and focuses)—including the use of designated solo sections—for both the piano and clarinet. The most basic 'state' in the open section of the music is collective improvisation—involving the free association and vibrational sound relationship of the two instrumentalists.
In the composite time/space context of the music, improvisation should comprise fifty percent of the music in Composition No. 60. This is a notated and open forum for creative exploration that contains its own challenges and secrets. A given participation of Composition No. 60 involves sequential shifting from notated to open sound spaces that interlock to create a reality context (of its own being). The sequential use of material in this manner can be viewed as a 'feeding stimulant' that gradually unfolds its own meaning (as opposed to a work that is revealed completely for elaboration). Composition No. 60 is a reality context for sound invention and focus objectives (material objectives).
Section D consists of twelve phrase grouping statements that recalibrate the focus and nature of its sound space (music). This section is brought in from open improvisation and fitted into the focus of the music. The reality of this material then moves to establish its own tendencies (and material operatives). Phrase grouping sections numbers 6-10 are activated as eight-note sound pattern types that establish a relationship between the clarinet and piano (from a single statement played first on the clarinet to a unison passage that carries multi-significance for the extended interpretation language components of the music. The realness of this phenomenon is expected to be carried forward into every aspect of Composition No. 60—including its use of open improvisation. Once this material is executed the pianist is given a small open section for low sound improvisation to establish the thrust of the music (as it moves back into the open space). Section C2 moves to reinstate the material focus of the music—and in particular the two-note (sound) groupings (motif) that repeats in four different variations. From that point the music returns into the open space (improvisation) of its structure.
Section E consists of twenty phrase grouping (sound relationship) complexes that seek to reestablish the material basis of the music—as a means to reclaim 'space presence' (as well as sound space dynamics). This is a relationship sound forum music that involves the positioning and inter-positioning of sound material in the space of the music. Section E is approached as a re-forum for material construction (notated music and the presence—feeling—of notated music) that could extend the idea of the composite work (music) as well as forward its material components. Re-material-positioning in this work was approached in moment time as a response to how the moment construction of the piece unfolded. In this context given phrase and pitch components of previous sections of the music are integrated—and sometimes used as a 'point of postulation (thinking)' to create new phrases (constructions) in the music. This is especially apparent in the material nature of Section E—where grouping number 13 is a re-position figure from Section A (or the use of the opening sound relationship complex from Section A). Section E moves to reinsert the idea and structural nature of Composition No. 60 so that the 'spread' of its extended treatment does not distort its greater intention (sound purpose and/or conception). When this material is executed the flow of the music (invention) returns to the open space of the structure. Phrase grouping E19-20 is a repositioned phrase grouping from Section B (B1) that is now utilized as a momentum passage for a solo clarinet open section. All of these matters are approached (perceived) with respect to the contour and presence of the composite form (music).
Section F is a light material structure that serves as a pause in the sound space continuity of the music. Consisting of only six phrase grouping components—that rapidly move through the space of the music—this is a moment structure that moves the focus of the music from an open to notated sound presence—and back again. The first four phrase grouping of Section F are for solo piano and this is followed by a unison grouping (phrase grouping 5) and unison half note long sound (grouping 6). From this point the music flows back into the open improvisational space (the velocity of which is increased from the normal flow of the work). Sections G1 and G2 can be viewed from the same context as this phenomenon (in the sense of its material purpose). All of the material in Composition No. 60 seeks to extend a basic attitude and sound focus about music. Each can be viewed as an extended sound moment that contains positioned material and conceptual intentions.
Composition No. 60 is a dynamic structural forum for extended improvisation that was conceived as a response to (creative) thinking (intentions). The work was originally constructed as one possibility in six that could be realized for a recording projects—for Muhal Richard Abrams and myself. We have since performed this work in both America and Western Europe.