Composition No. 77D was conceived as a work to utilize the possibilities of slap tongue technique and can be broken into three distinct compositional areas.  The first area utilizes short multiphonic phrases as a tool for establishing focus on slap tongue possibilities (which in this case are against short pianistic phrases).  The second section utilizes multiphonic massed configuration movements with the use of slap tongue technique as an integral factor in shaping attack.  The third section utilizes multiphonic phrase movement against ultra high sound figures—with the added use of instrument sounds as a color factor.  Throughout the composition there is the added ingredient of vocal intermixture—added to both given multiphonic chords or as an integral factor in a given phrase-patch.   This composition is dedicated to my friends Emilio and Pat Cruz.


Anthony Braxton, liner notes to Alto Saxophone Improvisation 1979 (Arista A2L 8602); also Composition Notes D (Frog Peak, 1988: 185-186)

Composition No. 77D is a language music structure for solo improvisation that was composed circa 1971.  In this work the instrumentalist is given a fresh matrix system of sound materials that can be shaped to create unique and personal improvisations.  Composition No. 77D is a medium pulse material platform that can be cast into the sound pace of the music.  This is a language music material context that provides a working practical concept for creative exploration without freezing any one fixed result.  The instrumentalist is expected to take this material and solidify a vocabulary and environment music type that is relevant to the pre-set variables of the work (as well as the vibrational tendencies of the interpreter).  What this means is that a given performance of Composition No. 77D is a dynamic affair that, while containing its own vibrational and material character, also establishes 'personal' creative moments and statements from the life and 'about the life' of its interpreter.  This is especially apparent in Composition No. 77D because the work contains no traditional notated phrase grouping statements and/or materials at all.  Composition No. 77D is a material process sound reality that can be actualized as a means to penetrate into a unique language and material state.  The interpreter is expected to take this material and actualize a music that gives new definition to our relationship with sound and sound awareness.  Composition No. 77D is a multiphonic and multiple sound state context that allows for a fresh approach to creative exploration.  The work was conceived to emphasize the use of slap tongue and positioned sound shape considerations.  My first awareness of slap tongue sound possibilities came in 1971 from master saxophonist Ben Webster.  In fact Mr. Webster taught me personally how to make a slap tongue sound on the alto saxophone.  Ever since that experience I have atempted to provide material and structural operatives for slap tongue dynamics—so that I could better establish a relationship to what this device could mean in the forward spread of my own creative awareness.  Composition No. 77D is the first language music emphasis context for slap tongue dynamics—that being an integrated variable that functions with respect to a composite interlinking of various sound devices and emphase.  A given interpretation of this work should open a dynamic world of sound (and discoveries) for the creative instrumentalist.  This is a music of sound shapes and dynamic textures that gives new insight into the nature of music (and sound awareness).  Composition No. 77D unfolds itself as a pointed sound shape forum that exercises dynamic timbral and register options in its choice of phrase and idea materials.  This is a 'sound' piece that contains no traditional references in material and idea formation tendencies.  Composition No. 77D is a microscopic material state that 'goes on about its own business'—having to do with the nature of a given intermixture and what it poses for alternative—and 'perceived' positive—functionalism.  The work contains no time duration and/or material mixture overstructure.

Composition No. 77D is a language music material environment that can be entered in the same sense as learning a new speaking language.  The reality of this structure was conceived as a mixture of given sound and operational strategies that forms its own relationship with the space of the music.  A given breakdown of each category would isolate:  (1) the principal use of slap tongue sound materials as a dominant factor that underlies the fabric of the music, (2) the use of vocal sound techniques, (3) multiphonic phrase movement, (4) high sound input with moving sound mass and (5) principle element input into high sound occurrences.  In the first category the use of slap tongue sound types can be viewed as an indigenous material component that characterizes the basic material texture (state) of the composite work.  This is so because the idea for Composition No. 77D came about as a framework to emphasize slap tongue exploration dynamics.  The most basic use of this device involves a continuous column of phrase grouping sequences that 'clip' in and out of the space of the music.  Visually the reality of that phenomenon can be viewed in these terms (figure [blank])0.  Slap tongue dynamics in Composition No. 77D moves to solidify a continuum of 'obelisk-like' sound fragments that 'jut' out into existence (in the 'crack' between the sound and space).  Slap tongue dynamics in this context can be viewed in the same sense of sound 'sparks' that dance 'in the wind' of the music.  In the second category the use of vocal dynamics is intertwined with the material nature of Composition No. 77D.  With this consideration the instrumentalist is asked to create the 'illusion' of a sound fabric that contains more than one 'perceived' sound occurrence (or 'perceived' sound thought).  The use of vocalization is especially important to the dynamics of Composition No. 77D and gives the work a special vibrational hue (and attitude).  This can be understood in the overall context of the composite music and its functional dynamics.  Vocalization in the infra-material reality of Composition No. 77D gives an additional option to the single-line reed or brass instrumentalist that allows for many fresh creative possibilities.  The use of this operative is especially effective for multiple invention dynamics and simultaneous cross idea—sound—objectives.  This is in accordance with the secrets that have been translated through the material fabric context of the music (having to do with 'those old sounds' that make us remember 'things that never happened to us').  I remember the first time I heard Charlie Parker's and John Coltrane's music—it was the actual sounds they extracted from their instruments that first caught my attention.  The use of vocalization devices in the infra-reality of Composition No. 77D provides a complementary sound component that interacts with slap tongue sound techniques to create a broad music space.  In the third material directive—that being the use of multiphonic phrase movement—we can begin to view the terrain specifics of the 'forward' music of Composition No. 77D (in its moment to moment realization).  Multiphonic sound movement in this context can be viewed as one of the resultant sound possibilities related to the material and conceptual 'mix' of Composition No. 77D.  Sound materials in this sound forum involve the use of 'thick' phrase textures whose sound body contains more than one perceived 'dialogue' ('occurrences').  This is a sound state whose material moments contain inside 'gurgle-like' sound events that allow for several different perceived events to take place.  The use of this operative gives the creative instrumentalist a fresh perspective about sound material and sound logic.  Visually this consideration can be viewed in these terms (figure [blank]).

The fourth directive of Composition No. 77D involves the use of high sound input strategies juxtaposed with moving sound mass variables.  The reality of this concept involves establishing high sound harmonics (and/or 'squeaks') as a stable but simultaneous factor that gives definition to low sound mass movement.  Originally, on the alto saxophone this meant squeezing the reed of the instrument in a way that produced a slight squeak element in the 'particle' of the sound.  The combination of subtone low sound fingerings and stretched high sound 'lines' moves to create a 'shadow context' for creative exploration that is fresh and unique.  To experience this phenomenon is to enter a multiple and diverse sound space that allows for its own construction tendencies to develop.  This feature is also extended to include the use of a mass sound statement that transforms into high sound line sparks.  The use of material transformation directives in this context—as an integral conscious variable in the moment to moment material attitude of the music—can be viewed as an attempt to explore fresh possibilities for sound and timbre dynamics.  Composition No. 77D is a material and material mixture state for extended improvisation.

A given interpretation of Composition No. 77D should establish at least three primary criteria—that being (1) the use of shifting dynamics, (2) the use of density and (3) the use of multiphonic and double sound movement.  In the first criterion the concept of shifting dynamics is embedded in the kernel phrase grouping fabric of the music (as an operative that is indigenous to the normal timbre of the music).  What this means is that the role of dynamics is not separate from the perceived inter-movement of the music's focus.  Dynamics in this context moves to emphasize given aspects of a specific grouping based on the nature of the forming idea—material—rather than isolating one perceived sound relationship.  In this context are placed extreme dynamic changes as a means to 'pop in' various 'influences of the moment' (or 'forces that might want to say something').  Dynamics in Composition No. 77D is used to perpetuate myth of 'freshness' and 'perception.'  This is so because this device can give the illusion of 'urgency' (and 'regret'—for that matter).  The use of shifting dynamics in this context moves to sharpen the focus of the music and this is especially evident in the primary kernel material state of Composition No. 77D.  In the second criterion the instrumentalist is asked to make use of density—or material density—as a material (fabric) substance consideration that defines the 'workings' of the music.  To understand this phenomenon is to view the inner reality nature of Composition No. 77D.  The concept of density in this context pertains to the total makeup of Composition No. 77D—from working material sound types to the nature of its 'intended' conceptualization.  A given interpretation of this variable—density—can take on many different forms and applications because the first prerequisite to any variable must be the vibrational influences that determine what 'tendencies' are in the air during the moment of invention.  Density on a given occasion might have nothing to do with multiple sound movement as much as the overall texture of the materials being focused on.  To understand this difference is to gain insight into the essence of the music.  The third interpretation criterion of Composition No. 77D involves the use of multiphonic and double sound movement.  Both of these factors are indigenous to the primary matrix of Composition No. 77D (that being the nature tendencies of its collective structural specifics).  Emphasis in this context is directed towards developing expanded material objectives that provide the illusion of dimensionality (or more than one perceived logic).  This objective permeates the structural lining of Composition No. 77D.

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Anthony Braxton, Composition Notes D (Frog Peak, 1988: 186-195)