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Serial Series

© 2013, MaLoMaLo Press

for Bassoon Quartet

I. Serial Jazz

II. Serial Minimalism

III. Serial Fugue

Duration: 6:00 min.

Program Notes:

When I was first introduced to the Serialist movement, the idea of using tone rows as a tool in composition fascinated me. At the same time, many of my fellow students balked at the idea, especially after hearing the music historically composed in such a fashion. When writing Serial Series, I decided to hybridise Serialism with Jazz, Minimalism, and Counterpoint in hopes that I could enrich all traditions involved while simultaneously creating music that even those who generally dislike the Serialist movement would enjoy.

The Jazz movement was perhaps the easiest of the three to write, due to the frequent listenable dissonances inherent in the style. As a result, I was able to build a tone row around the melody, with less concern for the harmonies that would naturally result.

Lack of repetition combined with unfamiliar pitch progressions often makes listening to traditional Serial music difficult for people, while repetition of familiar material makes Minimalism difficult. In combining the two, I decided to use a rather angular tone row, which would mitigate the difficulties associated with each; the angular row needs enough repetitions to become familiar and enjoyable, while the repetitions are less likely to become boring due to the unfamiliarity of the row. Although not strictly serial, I hope this movement sufficiently captures the beauty of familiarised dissonance.

While writing Fugues often poses a challenge, this one had unique difficulties due to its Serial nature. Adhering to the tone row limits options of adjusting the subject or countersubject to fit a new key or different scale degrees. Additionally, the polyphonic melodies make it seem inappropriate to split rows between voices, limiting the ways the row can be used. However, I enjoyed the challenge of creating and resolving dissonance in a way congruent with traditional fugal expectations.

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