Serial Miniature for Piano 6

For such a short piece of music I am astounded at how long this has taken me! I think I finished the fifth one about four months ago. This one though is more complex than the other six.

I took my 12 x 12 matrix of sequences derived from the original tone row (the same as in the other five miniatures) and, after some playing around, found three that, when lined up to make twelve sequential chords, gave me a harmonic progression that I liked. I used P 0, R 10 and RI 2. By laying these out as chords, I then had material to experiment with. series

I wanted, however, to add something to these harmonies so I decided to use the three sequences that I had chosen to layer a melody and figures over the top. The opening phrase is a combination of the first notes of each of the three sequences, using prime numbers as the determinant fore the number of notes form each phrase.

1st phrase

Prime numbers play another role in the piece. All prime numbers that can be found within the scope of a 12 note sequence (3.5.7 and 11) are used. At various points I have asked for a variation of the following to be played:


The intention is to sound and hold the note (in this case a D) and then hear the sound of the key being pressed (in this case three times) without sounding the strings, while the original note continues to sound. Necessarily the dynamic will be very quiet in order to be able to hear the percussive sounds.

Structurally I started off with two articulations of the 12 chords that are created by the parallel 12 tones of the three sequences. This structure, however, felt incomplete. Why two articulations? Why not four? I therefore altered the piece so that we have one articulation, and then the sequences is reversed, so that actually the structure is chorus based on P0, R10 and RI2, followed by R0, I2 and P10. This gives much more satisfactory structure, that has credibility, logic and artistic wholeness! oooh! Get me!

So I have now finished my six miniatures. I am very happy with this, and actually quite proud of myself, as I have finished something I started! My tendency until I started having lessons was to come up with some ideas, but never actually know how to develop and finish them. Now I just need to go back and revise them all!

I do want to find myself a pianist who would be happy to play these though and do a rough recording for me, so that I can hear how they sound and get some feedback on their playability. It would need to be a good pianist, though, as there are some difficult passages!

There is one point where I have cheated. The strict application of the 12-tone principle would have given me, in one place, something which I didn’t like. Therefore I swapped two chords around. If you can find them I’ll buy you a bottle of wine!

A note on the recording. I couldn’t find a quick way of articulating the key strikes or the sostenuto pedal in playback, so the recording is rather deficient here!

Serial Miniature – Music

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