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Depends on How You Count It

A couple of weeks ago I posted a preview of violin/bass clarinet miniature. Tonight, Dohyci premieres, with The New York Miniaturist Ensemble at the helm.

The story of this miniature is more than a little wonky. The mission of the ensemble (“The New York Miniaturist Ensemble is dedicated to performing music written with purity of essence – composed of 100 notes or fewer.”) struck me as so completely brilliant, I got immediately giddy. 100 notes. It’s genius — think of all the music they can play, by all the composers they can possibly get in touch with, all of whom would say: 100 notes? Sure, why not.

I know I did. I wrote the piece in about 4 days (well, 1 day, with a few days of tweaking), and I’d say the fun (and most difficult) part is coming to terms with the idea of a note. 100 notes – but what is a note? Is this double-stop one note or two? How about this 22-pitch polychord? This slow glissando down an octave — how many notes is that? One? Twelve? How about this audio sample of hippos mating you trigger with Max/MSP by playing this trill? This is where this kind of thing gets interesting, and personal, and it’s at the heart of the brilliance of the NYME mission.

So, Makor, 13 composers … 1300 notes.

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