EIGENTUM DES VERLEGERS · ALLE RECHTE VORBEHALTEN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
HENRY LITOLFF’S VERLAG / C. F. PETERS FRANKFURT/M. · LEIPZIG · LONDON · NEW YORK
Directions for Performance Score (transposed) Instrumentation
PRELIMINARY NOTES Spontaneous decisions in the performance of a work and the possibility of the composed elements being
“mobile” have been of primary interest to me for
some time; the former to an extreme degree in FOLIO
Trumpet in Bb
(1952), and the latter, most explicitly, in TWENTY FIVE
PAGES (1953). For me, the concept of the elements
being mobile was inspired by the mobiles of Alexander
Calder, in which, similar to this work, there are basic
units subject to innumerable different relationships or forms. The concept of the work being conducted and
Duration: 6-12 minutes
formed spontaneously in performance was originally inspired by the “action-painting” techniques and
The conductor needs an arrow indicator with
works of Jackson Pollock in the late 1940s, in which
numbers 1 – 4 (provided with score) to show
the immediacy and directness of “contact” with the
the musicians which page to perform from.
material is of great importance and produces such an intensity in the working and in the result. The performance conditions of these works are similar to a painter working spontaneously with a given palette.
The conductor may conduct the events in any sequence or juxtaposition, in changing tempi, loudness and in general mold and form the piece. The inherent flexibility of the materials allows the work to constantly transform itself and re-express its potential, while the sound materials and characteristics which I have composed contain the essential “identity” which makes this work different from any other.
I have felt that the conditions of spontaneity and mobility of elements which I have been working with create a more urgent and intense “communication” throughout the
entire process, from composing to the final realization
development of the work in FOLIO (1952 and 1953) and
of a work. I prefer that each “final form,” which each
most clearly represents sound-relationships in the score
performance necessarily produces, be a collaborative
as I wish them to exist in performance, independent of a
adventure, and that the work and its conditions of human
strict pulse or metric system.
involvement remain a “living” potential of engagement. It is a “time-notation” (now generally called “proportional Score and Structure
notation”) in that the performer’s relationship to the
The conductor may begin a performance with any event
score, and the actual sound in performance, is realized
on any page and may proceed from any page to any
in terms of the performer’s time-sense perception of the
other page at any time, with or without repetitions or
relationships defined by the score and not in terms of
omissions of pages or events, remaining on any page
a rational metric system of additive units. The durations
or event as long as he wishes.
are extended visibly through their complete space-time of sounding and are precise relative to the space-time of
The numbers of the score pages to be played from are
the score. It is expected that the performers will observe
indicated to the musicians by a movable arrow on a
as closely as possible the “apparent” relationships of
placard displaying the page numbers 1 to 4 — the number
sound and silence but act without hesitation on the basis
and arrow being clearly visible to all members of the group,
of their perceptions.
and the arrow comfortably within reach of the conductor. It must be understood that the performance is not It is suggested that the podium be wide enough (or that
expected to be a precise translation of the spatial
enough music stands be used as a podium) for all four
relationships but a relative and more spontaneous
score pages to fit next to one another so as to be visible
realization through the involvement of the performers’
to the conductor at all times during the performance. (In
subtly changing perceptions of the spatial relationships.
the parts, all of the events on all of the pages are visible
The resulting flexibility and natural deviations from the
to the musicians without the necessity of page turns.)
precise indications in the score are acceptable and in fact integral to the nature of the work. The result is the
accurate expression of the actions of people when
There is a built-in factor of flexibility in the notation and
accuracy is not demanded but “conditioned” as a function
scoring of this piece because the availability of forms is
within a human process.
based on letting go of the idea of metric accuracy. This is achieved through the notational system used in this work. This system, which I have called a “time-notation,” is a
(event plus event), sequences, dynamics, and tempos,
The conducting technique is basically one of cueing; the
spontaneously created during the performance. All
notation precludes the necessity and function of “beat”
events are always prepared by a left-hand signal and
in the usual sense (although the conductor does indicate
initiated by a down-beat from the conductor; the size
the relative tempo). The page which contains the event
and rapidity of the down-beat implies the loudness
to be played is indicated by the arrow, as previously
and speed with which the event is to be performed.
explained. The number of the event to be performed is
The conductor must, as with any notation, insist on
indicated by the left hand of the conductor — one to five
accurately articulated relationships from the rhythmic
fingers. A conventional (right-hand) down-beat initiates
“shape” of phrase and pitch sequences in this work.
the activity. The relative speed and dynamic intensity with which an event is to be performed is implied by the
General Modifications of Events
speed and largeness of the down-beat as given with
con d ucte d fe r mata :
the right hand. Nearly all of the events in the score have
fermata at any time during the performance, in any single
been assigned dynamic values. These are acoustically
event or combination of events. Both hands cupped
accurate in terms of instrumental and ensemble
towards the orchestra and held stationary indicates that
sonority and balance and must be respected as written,
all musicians in that group should hold the sound or
although the conductor may “over-ride” the indicated
silence which they are at that moment performing, until
dynamic values and raise or lower the over-all loudness.
the next sign from the conductor tells them either to cut
the conductor may introduce a
off or to continue from the point of interruption. A cut-off The “graphic” notations as in events 4 and 5 on page
is signaled with both hands and must be followed by
3 are a generalized way of indicating instrumental
another event-signal from the left hand and a down-
activity and non-characteristic sounds. Observe very
beat. To continue, the conductor moves both hands from
carefully the character and rhythm of the graphics, the
the “hold” position back to the body and then outward
verbal indication of technique of articulations, and the
towards the orchestra, palms up (as if giving the initiative
approximate frequencies covered by the rise and fall
back to the orchestra).
of the graphic line. All sounds are basically delicate and microtonal.
con d ucte d stop :
the conductor may stop any event
or combination of events at any time during the The conception of the work is that the score presents
performance. The normal, two-hand cut-off signal will
specific material having different characteristics,
silence his entire group. Leaving the hands up will hold
and that this material is subject to many inherent
that silence until the signal to continue from the point
modifications, such as modifications of combinations
of interruption is given. If the hands do not remain up
in “hold” position, the musicians are to expect another
impression derived from the score will be one of many
event-signal from the left hand, and a down-beat.
sporadic fragments. This wealth of fragments shows the numerous formal possibilities inherent in the work,
mod i fication of s i ng le eve nt :
any two-hand cut-off
signal affects the entire group. The conductor may wish,
and it is this realization, not the fragmentations, that must become the dominant characteristic of performance.
however, to modify only one event among two or more events being performed simultaneously. To do this he
signals the number of the event to be modified with his
All indications of dynamics are relative to the
left hand; then indicates the modification — a hold or
instrumental technique and register of the particular
cut-off — with only his right hand. (Events not indicated
sound called for, i.e., a string sound to be played
by the fingers of the conductor’s left hand continue
col legno tratto, sul ponticello, with a dynamic of ffff,
to proceed normally.) It is absolutely essential that the
must be played as loudly as possible regardless of
orchestra members clearly understand this difference
the dynamic intensity produced by the same dynamic
in signaling: a hold or cut-off by both hands affects an
marking in an instrument of a different nature. Thus, a
entire group; a hold or cut-off by only the right hand
low C in the Flute marked ffff is not expected to have
affects only the event indicated by the fingers of the left
the same volume as a middle-register tone marked
hand. Players whose parts do not contain events signaled
ffff in a clarinet. This simply means that the flutist is
by the conductor’s left hand must remain unaffected by
to play his tones at the maximum volume available in
his subsequent right-hand indications.
that register of his instrument. The pppp indicates that the sound is to be as soft as possible. All dynamic
As soon as the conductor initiates (by left-hand event-
indications are “balanced” in this way, relative to their
signal and right-hand down-beat) a new event that
acoustic functions within the event-structures and the
appears on the player’s part, the preceding event is
characteristics of the instruments employed in them.
automatically cancelled. No specific stop-signal is required. The player simply discontinues the event he
is playing and, without break between events, begins to
Comments and Suggestions to the Conductor:
play the new one.
Page 1, event 1: Best rather legato and moderately fast or fast tempo.
With these procedures clearly understood by the conductor and the musicians it is possible to achieve smooth transitions and long lines of connected material of extreme complexity and frequent modification. The first
2: Highly percussive. Equal balance between violin and piano; any tempo.
3: Highly articulate, “string trio
character;” elegant, legato and
instruments, producing no tone;
percussive; any tempo.
changing to percussive wind and key/
4: Staccato-percussive “loop”
valve slap. Follow rise and fall and
4: Wind sound only, through the
rhythm of graphics as much as possible.
5: S omewhat more legato, “loop”
(not a repeating “loop” texture).
(repeating texture). Vary tempi and loudness, with stops, starts, bursts, etc.
5: V ln. 2 and viola, using all 4 strings on “wrong” side of bridge; a kind
Page 2, event 1: All instruments very legato, “soft”
of “nervous,” semi-tremolo effect;
articulation. Instruments equally
following rhythm and approximate pitch
balanced dynamically as a “single
sound” of 8 “loops.” As the loops continue the instruments get “out
Page 4, event 1: A rather “loose,” semi-articulate,
of sync” and automatically re-align
“noisy” trio. Improvisatory sounding but
into different vertical sonorities.
following timbre, rhythm and graphic
Introduce fermata, stops, starts,
vary tempi and loudness, etc. “Warm” ensemble textures.
2: A five instrument, random rhythm, chordal effect; as resonant as possible.
2: Percussive and staccato “pyramid.”
Musicians acting and reacting freely in a kind of “conversational” style, but
3: Basically quiet, legato “pyramid.” In
“looping” in the given sequences of
first rehearsals of events 2 & 3, give
musicians each entrance until they learn their relative (not exact) entrance
3: A tight tone cluster with different
positions (pizz. entrances in 3 are
rates of speed of movement
slightly staggered, not simultaneous).
within it…looping (introduce fermata, speed up, slow down,
Page 3, events 1, 2 & 3: Three different “chords.”
1 & 3: The timbre transforms during
stops, dynamic changes, etc.).
4: A quiet sound.
5: A duet.
A Sample Continuity and the Results of Juxtaposition:
After considerable rehearsal, sufficient for the musicians to
Page 2: Event 1 is started and allowed to “loop” for some
feel secure in their flexible but very accurate relationships
seconds by itself. Conductor indicates 4 with left hand
to one another in each event as they appear on the pages
(preparing pianist) then gives down-beat with right hand;
of the score, it is possible for the conductor to use some of
pianist plays event 4 and other musicians continue to loop
the individual lines of the events as solos. For example, in
event 1; conductor then indicates 5 with left hand (preparing
event 5 of page 3, after the string quartet can perform the
violins 1 and 2), then gives right hand down-beat for event
event very accurately as a four-part quartet event (as in the
5 to begin; the three winds and viola and cello continue to
score but slightly different each time in vertical alignments
loop in event 1 while violins 1 and 2 play the duet of event
as is natural in the non-metric notation) the conductor
5: violins 1 and 2 reach the last sounds of event 5 and hold
may use one or more of the lines as solos or in other than
(fermata); other instruments with the exception of piano
scored juxtapositions. For the “as written” quartet event
(having finished the non-repeating 4) continue event 1;
the conductor signals 5 with his left hand to the 4 string
conductor adds event 2 (preparing as before) and piano
players as a group (sweeping the signal in front of all 4).
and 3 winds play event 2, winds arriving at the fermata on
For only one of the lines as a solo the conductor indicates
their last notes: we now have violins 1 and 2 and the three
5 with the left hand and points directly at the soloist with
winds sustaining (winds breathing when necessary and
the right hand, before making the down-beat with that
re-attacking the notes), the piano silent, and only the viola
hand. The four lines can thus be performed one after the
and cello still “looping” in event 1. The conductor adds event
other or, for example, the following kind of overlapping:
3, on the down-beat of which violins 1 and 2 automatically leave the fermata of event 5 and perform event 3 as written,
(there is finally no one any longer on event 1) ending with
the four-note fermata. We now have the 3 winds and the 4 strings holding their respective notes (a sustained chord,
in effect); the conductor adds the piano event 4 over the chord; while pianist performs event 4, the conductor
Likewise, the 1st violin part of event 5 could be
moves the page indicator-arrow to indicate whatever next
superimposed on only the flute line of event 4, etc., as
page he wishes, prepares with his left hand the event he
obviously the entire trio of 4 and the quartet of 5 could
wishes on that page, and on the right hand down-beat,
be performed simultaneously. This possibility considerably
that event will begin. Whatever instruments are not in
expands the formal potentials of any performance but
that next event on the next indicated page will continue
I insist that the formal integrity of the events as they
to sustain their previous notes until specifically cut off or
are scored be maintained for the most part. The events,
are given an event that they must play on the new page.
as scored, give the work a strong identity as NOVARA and the individual lines as solos should be used only as
In all of this long sequence there has been a continuous
variations on the identifiable events, as scored.
stream of sound.
Program Notes NOVARA was composed, at the request of Lukas Foss,
for a Fromm concert at the Tanglewood Festival in the summer of 1962, and the first performance was conducted there by the composer. The work was written just after the composing and Venice premiere of AVAILABLE FORMS II (for 98 instruments and two conductors), and is a kind of “relaxing” into the intimacy and delicacy of chamber music and soloistic possibilities after the very large resources and massed orchestral sounds of that work. NOVARA is an “open-form” work and uses many of the less characteristic sounds of the instruments that are sometimes referred to as “noises” but are nevertheless instrumental sounds which can extend the formal and expressive potential of the work. “Open-form” means that all of the sound materials in the work are notated and controlled in the score but that their sequence, juxtaposition, tempi and repetition are left to the spontaneous (during the performance) decisions of the conductor as the performing process develops and unfolds between himself, the sound materials and the musicians. The form of the work is therefore unique in each performance but it is always NOVARA because only those composed sound events may be used.
Litolff/Peters Nr. 11139
Earle Brown (1926–2002)
© 2007 by Henry Litolff ’s Verlag