Composition No. 23H is a material generating structure for extended improvisation that was composed in 1975. The reality of this structure was composed to establish terms for open collective improvisation as opposed to solo improvisation—to be utilized in conjunction with the composite series of multi-structures in my quartet music. In actual terms, Composition No. 23H can be viewed as an extended monophonic line structure that details a 'particular' focus for creative exploration. The work has been lightly designed to maximize interpretational dynamics so that the thrust of a given treatment centers more on improvisation (and what is realized from given improvisation) than on extended structuralism. Composition No. 23H is conceived as a refocusing agent as opposed to a conceptual language model because the work is not designed to scientifically introduce either extended structural or language devices for its interpretation. The significance of this work instead lies in its ability to vibrationally provide structural marking points for its interpreters and to stimulate them into looking 'for other focuses'. This is to to state that the material implications of Composition No. 23H have no special characteristics of their own—because the work does provide both thematic and material ingredients. Rather Composition No. 23H was conceived to balance the composite nature of my coordinate series of interrelated quartet works. I have purposely designed this composition to be non-complex with minimum structural dictates so that members of the quartet could have works that cover the spectrum of procedure dynamics. By providing this function Composition No. 23H has been an important work for my quartet book. We have utilized this work in many different performances as a central ingredient in the master structure progression of a given coordinate music performance mixtures. The open characteristic of Composition No. 23H has been important because of its ability to provide spaces of collective interaction. Composition No. 23H was composed in the Black Forest of West Germany in August 1975. The work is dedicated to the friendship I had with Burkhard Hannen. I wish him the best of luck.
The material implications of Composition No. 23H involve the nature of its thematic-like focus as well as its language tools. The work was composed form a thematic-like basis—yet none of its properties are elaborated on to the degree that definite thematic focuses—and/or shapes—solidify. Instead, the thematic properties of Composition No. 23H remain just that—'properties' that are never collated (to be used as a basis for improvisation). Part of this is due to the light design of the work, because Composition No. 23H was constructed as an outline platform for creative generation as opposed to a composite structural basis. The material references of the work involve its use of staccato four-note phrase shapes, in conjunction with chromatic interlinking devices as a basis for construction dictates. This feature underlies the composite structural designs of Composition No. 23H and is also the primary construction criterion of the work. Composition No. 23H is designed to give its interpreter a minimum amount of focus dynamics. The actual music of this work activates its own vibrational space and challenge.
The composite form of Composition No. 23H is A (1) A (2) B C A (2B) and the particulars of that breakdown are as follows: Section A introduces the opening notated material (in its first form) and establishes the vibrational nature of the composite music. This material is characterized by the afore-mentioned staccato four-note phrase (which opens the work) followed by the use of chromatic run to Concert A. The material design of SEction A establishes in the very beginning both the work's primary thematic focus and language types (in its original position). From this point all later material and focus decisions were constructed with respect to what was posed in Section A's material and conceptual alignment. This is so because Composition No. 23H was composed in moment time based on what was heard at the moment. The ingredients that solidified Section A served as the basis for what transpired in the total work.
Section A2 elaborates of the thematic and material operatives of Section A1 rather than introducing new criteria. This section moves to solidify the principal focus of the music by re-enstating the general foundation of Composition No. 23H. As in Sectino A1 the upper voices are given a unison line to be executed over open string bass and percussion. The opening of Section A2 extends the four-note staccato phrase figure found in Section A1 (and in doing so establishes its permutation as the principal motivic focus of the work).
Section B is the first deviation in material focus for Composition No. 23H. This section consists of a fourteen note phrase section—played by the upper and lower voices (in this case the horns and string bass)—followed by another seventeen-note phrase section. Both phrase sections involve even eight-note constructions that are constructed as legato-like statements by the composite ensemble. The string bass also plays this material arco—in contrast to the general pizzicatto improvisation underlining three-fourths of the music (this is the only section that makes use of this procedure difference).
Section C has been designed to accent the language and material criteria of Composition No. 23H. This section was conceived as a response to the secondary language dynamics underlying the works greater construction. The total focus of Section C has been designed to emphasize the use of chromatic inter-connecting lines—as solidified in Section A1—as an extended criterion in its own right. In this context positioned chromatic connecting sequences from Concert Eb to Concert Eb in octaves (Eb 3 to Eb 2)—that are repeated three times. From this point the thematic and conceptual focus of Composition No. 23H solidifies as a material generating structure to be used for extended improvisation.
Composition No. 23H was conceived as a thematic-like structure that emphasizes material dynamics during interpretation. In other words the nature of the composite materials was not designed to establish a thematic improvisational interpretational context as much as a particular vibrational space. The interpreters—in the quartet—are instructed to view Composition No. 23H as an isolated structure that can be placed into a given musical or structural context and left alone. This is so because the work was not conceived as a thematic generating structure but rather a platform that establishes its own vibrational identity and significance. Once executed the work creates its own spatial terms for collective ensemble improvisation—not as a point to rally towards but rather from. Composition No. 23H can be viewed as a structural marking platform for my coordinate series of interchangeable works that establishes vibrational terms for participation dynamics.
Composition No. 23H has no over arching harmonic system or rhythmic basis—as viewed from a traditional context. The work was composed from its material specifics in moment time to be utilized as appropriate. All of its various section are to be played on cue from the ensemble leader—and each section is separated by the use of open percussion on cymbals (the percussion functions as an open additive throughout the entire work for the most part—used as a color consideration on brushes and light cymbals). Composition No. 23H has been scored for 'open' duration—to be utilized for whatever factors are at hand (which is to say a given performance can be five minutes or fifty minutes—depending on what is being valued at the moment). The first performance of this work was done by Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland and Barry Altschul.