9 Through 99 (No. 20a) (2003)

Peter Adriaansz

flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion

In 2003 I found myself moving away from self-designed musical rules to rules proposed by either mathematical or natural phenomena — all in an ongoing effort to further free my music from personal desires, cultural dictates, or other forms of self-directed expression. One of the first pieces in this domain, 9 Through 99 was written for a portrait concert by the Ives Ensemble in 2004. The work is an entirely faithful ‘translation’ of Pascal’s famous triangle and aims only at portraying the inherent beauties and intricacies of the triangle itself, with all of its many wonderful forms of self-similarity. The triangle is set canonically, Modulo 9 (thus entirely symmetrical), gradually expanding from one to ten triangles, with varying durations between the phrases of each instrument. The instruments enter one after another, with the piano leading off and being the only one to actually complete all 10 triangles. The other instruments enter at pivotal points and with different durations separating their entries. Some catch up and some remain far behind by the time the piece ends. In its original version, the piece was scored for 12 musicians and included a high degree of hocketing between instruments — an actual relay race for the four strings performing a foolhardy attempt to catch up with the others through omitting all possible rests from their musical figures. Though the instrumentation is reduced here by 50%, an attempt has been made to maintain a similar degree of intensity. With entrances starting on either the first or fourth degree of the Phrygian scale on E, the score is characterized by a total absence of either expression marks or articulation markings… and not one single accidental.

[ii-11]

Performance