Free Music No. 1 (Percy Grainger) for 4 Theremins





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Published on May 17, 2011

http://www.thorwaldjorgensen.com - This piece was performed during a Percy Grainger tribute concert in the Netherlands on May 14th, 2011. It was a very special occasion, because this was the Dutch premiere of this piece, that was written 1936. The Theremin quartet consisted of Thorwald Jørgensen, Marieke van der Heyden, Marcel Wierckx and Jessica Hummel.

According to Grainger's 'Free-Music' theory music should leave the restrictions of scales, rhythm and harmonics behind. He demonstrated his theory in a string quartet and - after meeting Leon Theremin - in a Theremin quartet. Grainger used these instruments because they can produce a continuous tone, that isn't interrupted by breathing or other physical actions. Grainger was even planning to build a device that could perform a score by itself, without any human interference. Sadly, Leon Theremin wasn't able to contribute to these plans due to his sudden departure from New York in 1938.

Percy Grainger's own words on his 'Free-Music':

"In this music, a melody is as free to roam thru tonal space as a painter is free to draw & paint free lines, free curves, create free shapes... In FREE MUSIC the various tone-strands (melodic lines) may each have their own rhythmic pulse (or not), if they like; but one tone strand is not enslaved to the other (as in current music) by rhythmic same-beatedness. In FREE MUSIC there are no scales - the melodic lines may glide from & to any depths & heights of (practical) tonal space, just as they may hover about any 'note' without ever alighting upon it... In FREE MUSIC harmony will consist of free combinations (when desired) of all free intervals - not merely concordant or discordant combinations of set intervals (as in current music), but free combinations of all the intervals (but in a gliding state, not needfully in an anchored state) between present intervals..."

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