O Canada

Serial Gloss and Fantasia on a National Anthem

for Orchestra


Larghetto - Adagietto - Largo animato - Vivace - Andante maestoso

Date Duration Listen
24 July 2016 6'36" Realization (.MP3) Score (.PDF)
9.07 MB 236 KB

This is, of course, a demonstration-piece (similar to Tempus adest floridum, Op.4, No.12) designed to showcase the marriage of a popular diatonic tune to a tone-row under the contrapuntally extreme rigidity of a four-voice hymn tune setting - among other environments. Like Tempus adest floridum before it (which took nearly two years to compose, in three installments) this slender six-minute, thirty-six-second monstrosity kept me occupied for almost two full months. Such is the technical difficulty involved in convincing the families of these two divergent musical theories to consent to a wedding.

An explanatory data-point to illustrate what I mean, as well as open a little window on the general creative process in my workshop: any time I compose a new work - whether a symphony, quartet, or whatever - I first select the tone row inhabiting it and determine what arbitrary succession of tonal centers the row should visit during the piece. I plug these parameters into a super-secret array of scripts I wrote some years back and the ever-compliant computer immediately produces a skeleton-score for me, distributing each of the 48-possible major permutations of the row into the tonal pattern given, as well as helpfully providing the correctly-adjusted, unique two-voice, three-voice, and four-voice harmonic progressions each of the 48 permutations defines. I call this score my "row mine" and no elements appear in any of my compositions which cannot in some way be traced directly back to this one, relatively concise technical document.

After completing the little 6'36" piece herewith published, I examined the working directory on my computer where the compositional process had been based, and discovered that I had produced no fewer than seventy-two different row mines on various principles to solve the myriad problems inherent in whistling this one little tune against a serial background.

Don't fret, Canada: you're worth every second of the effort!

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