Distant voices
in memoriam Toru Takemitsu (for flute and piano)

Derek Charke
Composer
Derek Charke
Composition Date: 2002
Genre: Woodwinds, + Keyboard, Flute / Piccolo

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Flute
  • 1 x Piano
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Programme Note:
Distant Voices was written for a class at SUNY Buffalo where I analysed another composition and composed a new work using similar methods... I began with Toru Takemitsu's Piano Distance by breaking it down into several basic layers of material. I wrote out all of the chords, grace notes and single pitch phrases. In doing so I discovered that the basic pitch material was derived from a single pentatonic scale. I then looked at Voice and wrote down a few key elements. As part of my recent lecture recital I wrote a section on a performance practice of Voice. Note that you can read this entire lecture here or by going to the Flute page. (Lecture will open in a new window) (this note pertains to information on Derek Charke's webpage)

I began with a recreation of the constituent components. I decided on a different pentatonic scale consisting of D,E,G,A and B. I then wrote down a chromatic scale that was missing one scale degree, in this case there is no Bb in the single pitch phrase units. I created single pitches for the single pitch phrases utilising a similar number of notes and use of non-pentatonic scale notes. The exclusion of Bb was strictly adhered to for the single pitches. I then created pitch material in which to build a similar number of chords. I decided to create the same number of chords, 63, with a similar contour to the top pitch of the chords in Takemitsu's Piano Distance. The same process was repeated to create the single pitches in which to base the grace notes and grace note chords from. I had to have a combined number of 48 chords and single pitches for the grace notes in order to match Takemitsu.

I created the full chords and grace note chords by retaining similar intervallic relationships under each of the new single pitches. I also worked within each chord from start to finish with out regard for registral considerations. The "new" chords and grace notes were then laid out on separate pages in the same phrase units of the original. I also created 3 chromatic clusters built off of the same intervallic range. Elements retained from Voice didn't include pitch but included extended techniques and the proportional time frame for the second movement of my new composition.

Distant Voices 1 was created using a similar time scale as Piano Distance where each measure is worth approximately 3 seconds. I laid out 80 measures that could be filled with the material I had created. For the first piece I was thinking of moments of activity followed by space and visa-versa. Intuitively I entered the single note phrases into the 80 empty 'boxes' in the same order as the precompositional material but with registral changes. These single pitch phrases retain the original phrase units but are split between the flute and the piano. In this way the original phrase units are filtered but at the same time remain intact.

The next step was entering all of the chords. The chords were split unevenly, mostly going to the piano. The few chords that were given to the flute either became multiphonics or arpeggiated chords. The three clusters were distributed intuitively at measures 36, 68 and 80. After this came the grace notes. These were entered directly into the final score as anantecedents or consequents to single pitches or chords and also as gestures in and of themselves. I was striving to achieve various combinations of single pitches, chords and grace notes interweaved amongst one another and independent of each other to create various gestures that would shape the piece. Each time a gesture is initiated there is a variation. It can start with a grace note, chord or single pitch and continue in a similar fashion or be interrupted or accompanied by another layer of material.

The idea of resonance and composed silence as used in Takemitsu's piece plays a vital role here. In the first measure I use a toneless note G that is silently depressed by the pianist, but then activated by the partials of the low C nature in the second bar. This occurs a couple times during the piece. The pedaling of chords to varying degrees of length add to this composed silence. I also wanted to merge the two instruments into one sound. To accomplish this I instruct the flutist to play into the piano at points so that the piano can resonate the flute sound. The use of the single pitch material spliced between the two instruments creates contrapuntal situations that also call for a more unified approach to tone production. For example in measures 38 to 43 I incorporate characteristics of attack and decay similar to the piano in the flute line. In these measures the flute has a series of sudden dynamic changes that emulate an attack, rapid decay and the sustained quality of the piano.
Go to the program notes at Derek Charke's homepage

Premiere Information:
February 25, 2003, SUNY Buffalo, N.Y.; Derek Charke, flute, Evan Johnson, piano.

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MI 5211 C473dis 2002
  • Genre:
  • Woodwinds, + Keyboard, Flute / Piccolo
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • January 11, 2005
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (8 p.) ; 39 cm.
    8 Pages
    Height: 39 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • For flute and piano.
    Performers play from score.
    Ms. (photocopy); master of score in CMC Toronto.

    Additional People:
    Toru Takemitsu
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