MATRIXSYNTH: Oberheim Etude #7: "Twins Ascending, Descending"

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Oberheim Etude #7: "Twins Ascending, Descending"


Published on Sep 30, 2018 Kris Lennox

"#7 (of 12) from my 'Oberheim Etudes'. 'Etude' simply means 'study', and in music is used to describe a piece written to challenge/develop a specific technical/musical difficulty. This work focuses on phase displacement. When the actual performance finishes, there's a short section illustrating what is happening in the work at a technical level, i.e. 3-note LH phrases against 4-note RH phases. Skip to 3:47 for the explanatory section.

What makes this work difficult is twofold:

1) Playing evenly/metronomically for 3 1/2 minutes (in this performance I'm slowing down at certain points to emphasise new phrases, but I've indicated on the score that the piece can also be played entirely evenly - it all depends on desired effect)

2) Thinking two thoughts at once/holding two thoughts in the mind for the entire duration of the work.

Playing this work is the equivalent of having two arpeggiators running in upward sequence motion.

On a musical level - and with respect the title:

Sometimes it is best when a composer doesn't explain titles, as doing so can 'explain away' the secrets of a work - and leave nothing for the listener to discover. However, this work being a study, I feel it is best to give some insight:

'Twins' refers to the two lines running throughout - both are harmonically 'of the same family'.

'Ascending' refers to the upward arpeggiation sequences.

'Descending' - this one is slightly less obvious, but the actual harmonic phrasing/direction of the work is in descent i.e. chord 2 is lower than chord 1, chord 3 lower than chord 2 etc. The work is based around 4-bar harmonically descending sequences. This is likely obvious to the ear at the staccato section (1:57). So - whilst the sequences are ascending, the overall movement is one of descent.

PS take note what I'm playing isn't 'polyrhythmic'. Phase displacement is occasionally erroneously described as 'polyrhythmic', when polyrhythms refers specifically to different note divisions per beat i.e. 3 notes per beat against 4 notes per beat.

I'll possibly upload one or two more from this set over the next week or so.

All best
Kris"

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