Vertical Color Forms No. 1 "Cosmic Vistas"

Composed by Steve Kornicki
c. 15 min, 30 sec

Download MP3 (MIDI arrangement)  

The music depicts a mind's eye view of a journey through the universe across time and space -- from the calm, cold reaches of interstellar space to the spiraling motions of expansive galaxies to the steady and deliberate formation of amorphous nebulae to the violent and active gravitational pull of infinite black holes.

Harmonically, the piece is constructed from the layering of five 12-tone rows built from successive perfect 5ths. Each instrumental part moves through one of the assigned rows with the pitches stretched out over the duration of the piece through sustained tones and repetition of the tones. Once the large-scale structure was conceived, the tones, rhythms and textural densities were arranged in a vertical manner. Harmonic, rhythmic and dynamic interplay is the focus of the piece with melody, at times, being a subsequent result


  • piccolo
  • 2 flutes
  • 2 oboes
  • 2 clarinets in B♭
  • bass clarinet
  • 2 bassoons
  • 2 horns in F
  • 2 trumpets in B♭
  • 2 tenor trombones
  • tuba
  • 3 percussion (vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, xylophone, tubular bells, crotales, triangle, bass drum, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, snare drum)
  • harp
  • piano
  • strings

ANALYSIS: The system of music composition that I developed in late 2004/early 2005 for the 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 Color Forms 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 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 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.

Home | Contact | Links

Web page layout, design and photography by Creative Arts Connections
All music, photos, and images ©2009 Steve Kornicki. All rights reserved.