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844 Chords (2005) PDF Print E-mail
Catalogue - Instrumental ensemble

Rational harmonies in five voices for amplified ensemble (solo 1, solo 2, keyboard, guitar and bass). 20 minutes. Score € (Euros) 12, parts € (Euros) 15.

Rational Harmonies in Five Voices for Amplified Ensemble

After some months of work and hundreds of experiments, the music that finally became 844 Chords was defined with a few remarkably simple rules: Use only the intervals between the minor third and the octave. Begin with the five-note chord where the intervals between the instruments are 3, 4, 5, and 6 semitones, which give a total of 18 semitones, an octave and a half. Continue with the four chords having a total of 19 semitones: (4,4,5,6), (3,5,5,6), (3,4,6,6), and (3,4,5,7) and ask the computer to continue this logic with the 9 chords having a total of 20, the 16 having a total of 21, and so on. The result was a tonal-atonal mathematical sequence with inevitable regularity, but at the same time, with continually surprising juxtapositions and modulations. Sometimes one even hears reappearances of chromatic harmonies from the era of Franck and Wagner, though their sensuality is essentially arithmetic rather than emotional. The 136 chords having a sum of 31 bring us to a cadence in G major that seems to have been prepared for a long time, and I found it unthinkable to continue the logic beyond this point, chord 844.

At first the piece seemed destined to be for a classical string quintet, but the energy of the harmonic progressions required a driving rhythm and a louder sound, so I scored it for two solo lines, guitar, bass and synthesizer. The piece lasts about 20 minutes.