Horizontal Color Forms

Composed by Steve Kornicki

HORIZONTAL COLOR FORMS #22, for Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass (2008)
c. 3 minutes, 30 seconds

World premiere by the Chicago Miniaturist Ensemble at Ossia Fine Arts Space in Chicago
(September 2008)

Download MP3 (MIDI arrangement)  

Each of the HORIZONTAL COLOR FORMS (HCF) pieces deals with the synergetic combination of individual parts composed one at a time in a horizontal manner. These pieces all result from pre-determined structures and processes that are the result of improvisational composition using computer sequencing. The horizontal aspect refers to the process of composing each line completely through while being aware of the other parts, but allowing the parts to be free of each other – a process of “real time” composing and a certain amount of randomness. All of the pieces’ pitch structures are constructed from the simultaneous layering of 12-tone rows. These rows are chosen for their tonal/modal relationships and combinations and are stretched out over long durations through repetition of the individual tones (this repetition relating back to Arnold Schoenberg’s original concept of 12-tone theory). The resulting sound is of overlapping harmonies that can be heard as an apparently static surface of sound with a flux of textural elements and overlapping dynamic patterns beneath (musical effects at particular points: crescendos, rhythmic contrast, accents, instrument entrances, etc). The harmonic textures create the color aspect of the music and are a constant flow of transformation and change within this “stasis in motion”. The HCF compositional process produces a self-generating, horizontal harmonic flow that almost exclusively avoids vertical block harmonies in favor of gradually transforming tonal/modal lines and layers. These qualities create an atmospheric, aural landscape that can be compared to some 20th century minimal, early renaissance and baroque music, serving on an intense appreciation level or as an environmental listening experience. All of the works in this series reflect an interest in creating pure, absolute music that is derived from pre-determined musical systems within a large-scale structure based upon the combination and simultaneous layering of the 12-tone rows. Harmonic and rhythmic interplay is the focus of these pieces with melody, at times, being a subsequent result. The self-similarity and intended ambience of the music may also create a “suspended time frame” effect for the listener.

Horizontal Color Forms #22's four parts consist of sustained pitches in repeating patterns. The rhythms and dynamics are exactly the same in the four parts, measure by measure, throughout the duration of the work with changes only in the pitch structure.

There are four 12-tone rows for each of the four parts. Once reaching the 12th pitch at the mid-point of the piece, the parts move in a retrograde or reverse motion returning to the previous 11th tone and ending at the starting note, as illustrated below creating four closed loop, “23-tone rows” for the global structure:

VIOLIN = G, D, C, F, Bb, Ab, Eb, Db, E, B, Gb, A - Gb, B, E, Db, Eb, Ab, Bb, F, C, D, G
VIOLA = F, D, Eb, Bb, C, Ab, Db, Gb, B, E, A, G - A, E, B, Gb, Db, Ab, C, Bb, Eb, D, F
CELLO = Bb, F, D, A, G, Eb, C, Ab, Gb, Db, B, E – B, Db, Gb, Ab, C, Eb, G, A, D, F, Bb
BASS = C, G, F, D, Eb, Db, Bb, Ab, A, Gb, E, B - E, Gb, A, Ab, Bb, Db, Eb, D, F, G, C

The resulting music consists of a sustained texture of modulating harmonies with rising and falling dynamics.

ANALYSIS: The system of music composition that I developed in late 2004/early 2005 for the HORIZONTAL COLOR FORMS series displays clear and concise processes that occur within the music. The pieces are about the processes and reveal an obvious interplay of harmonic motion through the layering of individual tones. Musical interest is created through texture and dynamics. Harmonic motion is given precedence in a manner that is actually heard and perceived by the listener because of the “harmony generating” nature of the compositional writing and process. The piece avoids tertian harmony in favor of a new harmonic motion created from the stretching out of the 12 tones over a long duration. The HCF series can provide a model for a new form of listening to music through the purity of the compositional processes and the auditory effects (i.e. the music is about the tones and harmonic motion).

The HCF concept is based on the mathematical principle of “self-similar objects”. A self-similar object is exactly or approximately similar to a part of itself, e.g., the whole has the same shape as one or more of the parts. Many objects in the real world, such as coastlines show the same statistical properties at many scales. The HCF musical processes can be seen as analogous to this principle because the pieces’ resulting textural structures consist of many instances of the same or similar material.

Music, scores, MP3, concepts and text © 2008 Steve Kornicki



Home | Contact | Links

Web page layout, design and photography by Creative Arts Connections
All music, photos, and images ©2005 Steve Kornicki. All rights reserved.