About this work:
"Perhaps the concept of line is at basic root. Break up the line? into emotive or meaningful or musical complete images or abstractions or sensations - whole each, however. Except for purposeful variations on the meaning."
The above quote is from Allen Ginsberg's "Journals Mid-Fifties". I ran across it in a book review only moments after describing to my wife some of the structural features of Isoluminaries, which I was working on at the time. It seemed to me that Ginsberg could have been talking about my piece.
Isoluminaries is in a single, though highly sectionalized movement. The basic material is a melody, from which almost all of the piece is derived in some way, mostly by various canonic devices. This melody is constructed gradually, and so is not heard complete until well into the piece. As each new fragment is added it becomes the basis for the next section. A second, very short melody acts as a "punctuation mark" delineating the major sections.
When I first approached the New York New Music Ensemble about writing for them my inclination was to feature one of them as soloist. Flutist Jayn Rosenfeld said "Why don't you feature the whole group?" I think it's obvious that she meant "Don't single out any one player", but her remark gave me an idea. Where the soloist's cadenza would normally go I put in six different versions of the same material, played simultaneously - a "group cadenza". Hence the coinage of the word "isoluminaries" i.e., stars of equal brightness.
It should be noted that a portion of the melody was co-composed with Eve Beglarian, at her instigation, during a break in the rehearsal of another project. Isoluminaries was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, and was written for the New York New Music Ensemble.
Year composed: 1995
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 6-9 players
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Clarinet, 1 Percussion (General), 1 Piano, 1 Violin, 1 Cello
Instrumentation notes: The clarinet is really bass clarinet, with C extension. The percussion part uses marimba (low A) with mallets and bow, crotales (2 octaves), bongos, small conga (quinto), and small concert bass drum. The piano part requires five rubber mutes.