Thursday, September 12, 2013
17.) Filbert Street September 10, 2013
Filbert Street utilizes all six transpositions of Messiaen's sixth mode. Each phrase, separated with a measure of rest, is written in a different transposition. I also used non-retrogradable rhythms for this piece. Each phrase is an extended palindrome. Ironically, to create a non-retrogradable phrase such as these, one has to compose a phrase up to a certain point, and then actually retrograde the rhythm to finish it. So the retrograde is what makes it non-retrogradable. In The Technique of My Musical Language Messiaen explains his use of rhythmic pivot points. Each non-retrogradable phrase has a center note at where the reflection takes place. This ties in with his preference for phrases who's total rhythmic value is a prime number, such as a phrase equaling eleven eighth notes. Conventional phrase lengths are typically in even numbers, and the use of prime numbers can create a sense openness, and get one away from the ubiquitous four-bar phrase. I didn't actually concern myself with the prime numbers while I composed. But afterward I noticed that all the phrases were actually prime in length, with the exception of the last one.
Filbert Street in San Francisco is one of the steepest streets in the world, and my wife and I had the pleasure of driving down it a few weeks ago. It was scary and fun. The hills of that city really give it a vibe.