December Variations (on a theme by Earle Brown)




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Published on Jun 16, 2014

A composition (2013-14) with automatic, live generation of notation, based on variations of Earle Brown's famous graphic score 'December 1952'.

Earle Brown's 'December 1952' is a composition characterised by the use of graphical elements in the score. Part of a 'search for a new notation', it is constructed of 31 rectangles or lines.
Earle Brown later imagined the piece as a sort of Calderesque, musical orrery, a 'box' in which the score's elements would be actualised and motorised, "so that the vertical and horizontal elements would actually physically be moving in front of the pianist", who would interpret them "as they approached..., crossed in front of..., and obscured each other... The performer [would play] very spontaneously, but still very closely connected to the physical movement of these objects."

This composition has involved work towards the construction of such a system in software (and considers hardware implementations, but how metaphorical are Brown's words?) also allowing generative multiple automatic realisations, or variations, of the piece, live and in real-time, using common practice and augmented forms of notation. The composition also investigates how technology can help us to explore concepts of intuition, improvisation and performance, the mediating role of notation as semantic and graphic forms.
Although most aspects of the piece are generated in real-time, its duration will be of approximately ten minutes.

This 2013 version of "December Variations" is performed here by Paul Jackson in November 2013.


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