Composition No. 38A is a material structure for extended improvisation that was composed in 1974.  The reality of this composition was conceived in conjunction with five other structures—to provide a balanced program of works for a recording project.  In this work we are presented with a minimum amount of material to establish a dynamic universe of music.  Composition No. 38A is designed to provide a vibrational impression for the greater music space—as opposed to a structural or material focus (or platform) in its primary state—and this is also a system type that can stretch and rearrange (its) infra-material specifics to fit the need of its interpreters.  Composition No. 38A is a diverse material platform that continues my efforts to solidify a body of light structures to meet the needs of the post-AACM creative musician.  This is a work that establishes a focus (and way to proceed) in the music without restricting its participation dymanics.  Composition No. 38A can be used as a vehicle for collective improvisation, solo improvisation, and/or structural marking point—inside of the composite music (something put into the master structure of the music but not elaborated—improvised—on).  Composition No. 38A is dedicated to [blank]

Composition No. 38A is a material platform that consists of six phrase groupings and an intermediate short improvisation.  All of this material was written in moment time with the intention of forming a unified 'state' (unity) and/or music focus.  There are no overstructural harmonic and/or dynamic devices in Composition No. 38A, nor does the work contain any overstructural conceptual specifics (or interspecifics) in its note to note design.  Rather Composition No. 38A was written 'as I heard it' in the 'moment.'  This music is written in conventional notation and can be executed as written or re-positioned with respect to the phrase grouping order.  There is, however, flexibility in the time spaces in between phrase groupings—and this feature alone can profoundly affect the nature of a given interpretation.  In its extended sense the material implications of Composition No. 38A involves the flexibility to reuse a given phrase grouping as needed (plus the 'time space' context factor) as well as the flexibility to orchestrate the timbre of its composite materials.

The composite form of Composition No. 38A is A (A1) B (0) C D INT A (--).  Each letter in this context comments on the vibrational position of a given idea (in the greater overstructure of the music).  Phrase grouping number one (or Section A) is a four sixteenth note phrase that is repeated seven times (eight in all) to open the focus of the music (and its character).  The material used to accomplish this effect can also be viewed as an alternative primary generative structure that carries its own focus implications.  It is expected that the nature of what this means (establishes) will also be 'integrated' into the open material input (and idea tendencies) of the 'greater' music.  At the end of this material is positioned a short space for improvisation (four to six seconds) with two designated sound pitches to be used for resolving the 'nature' of the 'sound space.'  All of the remaining phrase groupings in Composition No. 38A were written as a response to Section A—as an opposition criterion for structural and vibrational balance.  From Section B on through D, the conceptual nature of the music moves to affirm linear line contours that produce smooth music lines and the perception of 'continuity.'  All of this material seems to be in contrast to the focus nature of Section A—as indeed it is.  Composition No. 38A is a fleeting moment that happens in the space of the music.  This is not an extended structure universe that requires multi-dynamic complexities to execute, nor does the work necessarily require much time (duration) in the 'music space' of the music.  Matters here are stated and gone.  The nature of a given material (conceptual) emphasis in Composition No. 38A involves its extended interpretation (i.e. whether or not its phrase groupings are used more than one time in the structure—in other words its orchestration).

Composition No. 38A is a medium pulse structure for dynamic improvisation.  The first performance of the work was scored for the duet context—for the synthesizer and wind multi-instrumentalist.  The musicians on that occasion were Richard Teitelbaum and myself.  We have since performed the work in many different places—in America and Western Europe.

Anthony Braxton, Composition Notes C (Frog Peak, 1988: 40-49)