Quintessence

April 2nd, 2006

This piece is the product of an entire semester of uninterrupted effort. I spent nearly half of the semester planning and experimenting before I actually began to write this work for solo piano. I developed my own harmonic system for the piece by rethinking the way triads are formed in a scale. In harmony as we know it, a chord is created by beginning with one note in a scale, and then adding every other note within the scale on top of it. The simplest example is of course a tonic triad, which contains the first, third, and fifth scale degrees of a major or minor scale. I realized, however, that the chords in a major key signature are also the result of three different scales, an ionian scale, a phrygian scale, and a mixolydian scale each placed a third apart. By using this idea of three scales working in synergy to create one set of chords, I set out and began to mix minor scales with half-step, whole tone, and octatonic scales. I also reevaluated the initial interval spacing of the triad, choosing a phrygian second and perfect fifth to place on top of the tonic. The process produced many interesting results from which I chose my favorites and began to compose. I eventually settled on a five movement form with the first movement introducing all of the themes, the second moving developing a highly contrapuntal idea, the third movement blissfully creating drawn out melodies in the upper registers, the fourth movement pounding out an aggressive rumbling idea, and the fifth movement summing everything up. Due to the length and difficulty of the piece, I only had one movement performed at a student composer’s recital, but I would love to hand the rest of the music into a capable performer’s hands one day.

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