18
Jul 11

Search Journal for New Music

Anyone interested at all in serious inquiry into the state of new music should be reading the Search Journal for New Music. At the moment I am especially taken with Stuart Paul Duncan’s essay “To Infinity and Beyond: A Reflection on Notation, 1980s Darmstadt, and Interpretational Approaches to the Music of New Complexity” which deals with similar topics as his essay “Re-Complexifying the Function(s) of Notation in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough and the ‘New Complexity,’” referenced in my previous post on complexity and failure.

Where else is one to find such treasures as in-depth analysis of Ferneyhough’s Carceri d’Invenzione III, or an article by Colin Holter, the description of which is best left to its title: “The Spiritual Construction of Tuning in American Experimental Music” ? If you have any other favorites, be sure to share them in the comments.


31
May 11

Irrational meters

I was going to write a blog post about what are called “irrational meters” (time signatures with denominators that are not powers of 2) – then I re-read a fantastic post by Helen Bledsoe, flutist for MusikFabrik (among others), and realized I should just link to her! She very lucidly explains the mathematical workings of Ferneyhough-style rhythm, complete with “irrational meters”, which really pose very little additional challenge, if you know how to interpret them.

The most basic point to remember about these meters is that the denominator, just like in more familiar time signatures, indicates the number of notes it will take to fill a whole note. 4/8 indicates 4 of something it takes 8 of to fill a whole note (namely eighth notes). A denominator of 5 would indicate that quarter note quintuplets are the basic unit of the bar, and the numerator, as in familiar time signatures, indicates the number of units in the bar. Thus, 3/5 would be a bar of 3 quarter note quintuplets! Of course, you can, instead, treat these changes of denominator as metric modulations and tempo changes – but I’ll leave some of the specifics to Ms. Bledsoe’s lucid explanations!

Head on over to her blog, Flutin’ High, for the full post!