Composition No. 40M is a line structure for extended improvisation that was composed circa 1974 for my quartet performance book. In this work I wanted to establish a rhythmic pulse criterion to generate dynamic improvisation. Composition No. 40M is a traditional-like line structure that consists of ten phrase groupings in three basic structural sections. The reality of this structure was conceived as both a material and principle generating platform for extended improvisation—material in the sense that the identity and/or vibrational presence of its materials conveys no one sense of emphasis (in either its intervallic or gravitational—dynamic volume—sense) and principle in the sense of how its rhythmic foundation affects the extended aspects of its use. What this means is that the work can be utilized in many different ways—depending on the needs of its interpreters. Composition No. 40M is a dynamic structure that establishes its own space in the music. Phrase grouping constructions in this sound space are long moving eight-note lines that extend across great distances in the terrain of the music. This is a universe rooted in the traditional continuum of Trans African pedagogy—having to do with the nature of rhythmic and vibrational dynamics and how a given specific is translated into material terms. Composition No. 40M is constructed as a line structure that carries forward the tradition of the music. This language device can be traced back to the dynamics of musicians like Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington (and can be observed in each succeeding generation of restructuralists thereafter). The reality of this effort is not separate from what this phenomenon is—and means. Composition No. 40M also continues the work of its earlier models in my coordinate music series of interconnected structures (most notably Compositions No. [blank] and No. [blank]). All of this material was conceived as a response to the challenge of tomorrow—having to do with the forward motion of all devices (and things) as a means to reestablish the nature tradition. Composition No. 40M is an atonal line structure that can be filled into a master progression system—either for a given performance plan that involves sequencing more than one composition together to create a multi-structural network of material—or as an independent forum with its own challenges and secrets. The music from this sound universe should be lively and strong. Composition No. 40M is dedicated to [blank]
Composition No. 40M is a static and active revolving structure that takes the concept of the vamp as its primary generating basis. The composite form of the work is A A B A and the material nature of the work must be viewed from that context. Section A consists of three phrase grouping line sections of intervallic eight-note line construction material. The first and second statements in these groupings are both two measures each and the third statement is a ten-bar phrase that completes the focus of the music. In its composite state Section A is a fourteen-bar phrase of extended line material that establishes a material focus—as opposed to a thematic focus. The last four bars (measures) of this material were conceived as a flexible statement that can be openly applied (or not used at all—in which open improvisation can be resubstituted). All of this activity is suspended over a pivot Concert A vamp pattern—that sets the stage (and vibration) of the music. Section B consists of a twenty-one-bar line statement that re-positions the pulse nature of the music. This is done by removing the vamp pattern and establishing a walking string bass-percussion time (reality) context into the music. The net effect of this change of 'pulse presence' moves to give the illusion of 'opening up'—that is, the music feels as if it has changed from inert to active continuance. Section B has been designed to make use of repeating two-bar phrase groupings as a basis for (its) line contour specifics. In this section will be found four different emphases of this device—to the extent that the nature of its construction specifics can be viewed from this context. Composition No. 40M was composed for the challenge of creative discovery.
The material nature of Composition NO. 40M involves the reality of its unfolding components. What this means is after the basic idea of the work was understood each succeeding moment was inspired from its immediate predecessor moment. This is so because Composition No. 40M was composed in moment time without any overstructural devices—in either its form specifics and/or harmonic decisions—as the process of the work was establishing itself (that being the moment decision that took place to create the music). I did make extra decisions as to the forming material specifics of the music. Some of this material would be reapplied into the infra-material specifics of the greater form of Composition No. 40M as a means to both establish character and focus. In this way the material nature of Composition No. 40M is also its expanded basis (i.e. the re-use of materials in measure number one in measures three and five—or the use of an ascending two-measure phrase grouping near the end of Section B). These were all moment decisions related to the nature of how the composition was approached.
The vamp principle that underlies Composition No. 40M's extended treatment is conceived as a sound anchor that regulated (and in some cases 'reminded us of') the focus of its extended interpretation. The responsibility of this function falls to the lower voice of the ensemble (which in my traditional quartet music means the string bass). A given performance of this work moves to establish a strong sound space that pulsates its terms to the listener. In this world of movement the pivot Concert A-- vamp pattern is used to open and close the music. The bassist in this regard has the flexibility to improvise openly (without respect and/or in reference to the established time pulse of the music) or change instead to a 'walking' pattern that gives the illusion of 'release' to the music. As such the vamp pattern is not used to 'choke' the music but to instead clarify its terms. Composition No. 40M is a dynamic structural universe that provides territories for relevant explorations. The work is constructed as a line structure that can be utilized without any overstructure limitations concerning either the use of its forum—as a time parameter to govern extended improvisation—or its focus specifics.
Composition No. 40M is designed so that its sectional material can be flexibly utilized as needed. Each section of this work can be stretched to include extra open improvisation—for as long as desired—in between its normal section connections. What this means is that a given performance can alter the perception of the composite music. It is possible to start the work in Section B and go to Section A and back to B—or use the work as a fragmented structure. This same flexibility can take place in its extended treatment as well. Composition No. 40M can be utilized as a platform for dynamic extended solo postulation or as a center factor for open collective improvisation. In this way many surprises can be experienced for both the interpreter and the listener.