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Syncretisms
Woodwind Quintet and Marimba (with optional percussion), 6m45s
 

Inspired by organizational techniques identified in Southeast Asian music, my MM thesis composition explores coordination vs. discoordination as a main dramatic device, though a shifting variety of textures. As each melodic phrase goes by, the instruments of the chamber ensemble pull apart from each other rhythmically, harmonically, even motivically, then congeal again in a unison gesture only to spread apart again during the next phrase. The music is at first static but grows to an exciting climax as the points of coordination grow closer to each other.

The concept was to employ organizational techniques common to traditional music from cultures all over Southeast Asia - from Thai and Khmer through the myriad cultures of Malysia and Indonesia - and couple these with "my own" western-influenced harmonic, motivic, and timbral language. The result is a composition that doesn't sound Southeast Asian on the surface, but which is organized according to principles identified in Southeast Asian music.

In terms of research, the project has implications for our understanding of musical cognition. Inspired in part by studies in the field of linguistics in which natural languages are compared cross-culturally for similar grammatical features, my project explores the possibility of comparing and contrasting musical languages for their organizational principles in hopes of learning something about the nature of aesthetic taste.

Instrumentation

Woodwind Quintet
     Flute
     Oboe
     Clarinet in B-flat
     Horn
     Bassoon
 
Marimba (Low-A; playable with only two mallets, four mallets recommended for agility.)
 
(Optional Percussion part for a seventh player: Glockenspiel and Orchestral Chimes.)