Composition No. 40N is a drone platform for extended improvisation that was composed in the Black Forest of West Germany in the spring of 1975. The reality of this work was composed to establish a dynamic platform for creative participation—to provide a unique context for extended improvisation. Composition No. 40N is an attempt to continually reconnect with the vibrational dynamics and focus of world creativity. The idea for this work is not separate from the functional dictates of both Indian and African creativity. This is a drone structure that functions in the same sense as Indian Raga music—establishing a layered sound space that becomes a sound curtain (that defines its own moment dynamics). I believe the significance of the sixties/seventies restructuralist cycle has to do with how it has affected our ability to appreciate (and reintegrate) composite information dynamics. Composition No. 40N is conceived as a platform to reinvestigate primary sounds—as a basis for re-understanding the role of harmony in the next cycle of the music. The central pitch that establishes this awareness is concert A—which is played by the string bass (lower voice—number three) throughout the whole of Composition No. 40N's time/space. Composition No. 40N is a slow pulse structure that floats in the space of the music into the 'open' space. This is a sensitive music universe that contains smooth phrase exchanges and continuances. I wanted in this structure to achieve the kind of 'peace and understanding' that happens in Indian ragas—as a basis to expand from (for the extended improvisational minded musician). Here is a sound world that stretches the moment by emphasizing both long sound connections and long silences in between moments. Composition No. 40M is a universe of containment that unfolds at its own pace. This is a spiritual and real space (in its ultimate sense) as well as an isolated and unfeeling space (in its non-ultimate sense). All of these matters are related to the specifics of the composition as well as the specifics of the people performing the composition. Composition No. 40N is a slow pulse structure for extended improvisation that establishes terms for moment creativity. The work is dedicated to [blank]
Composition No. 40N is a linear constructed platform that consists of eleven phrase groupings in nine basic sections (components). The composite form of the work is A (M) B (B2) C (A2) D (M) A and each designation refers to the idea and phrase nature of Composition No. 40N's notated material. Section A consists of three groups of phrase groupings and is a composite statement that establishes the nature of focus of the music. This is a line structure of connected phrase groupings and structural premises. For the most part all of this material is monophonically conceived (with the exception of material in Section C—and the material motive of M) and written in moment time. Section M is a three-note phrase grouping that establishes a motivic criterion for the composite structure. This motivic reappears in the later part of the structure (in phrase grouping ten) as a means for perceived balance. Section B is a seven-note harmonized phrase grouping that shifts the focus of the music and establishes the remaining nature of the composite work.
Composition No. 40N is a dynamic platform for extended creativity that was composed in conjunction with the challenge of my coordinate series of interconnecting structures. All of the works from this context were conceived as a response to the dynamics of post-AACM functionalism. Composition No. 40N is not a principle generating structure that affects its composite interpretation range (and/or time/space) rather the work was conceived to establish the vibrational tone of its extended treatment. After the notated material is executed the string bass can extend the drone into the greater space of the music for only a short duration (i.e. two to three minutes). The actual invention in this universe starts when the bottom of the sound (i.e. the drone) is removed and the floor of the sound space opens up. This is a vibrational rather than structural stimulant. Composition No. 40N was originally composed for my performing quartet ensemble. In that context the instrumentation is clarinet, trumpet, string bass and percussion. The actual notated score that will be published for the greater public will be scored for two upper voices and one lower voice—plus percussion. The work is designed to be as flexible as possible—depending on the needs of the moment. What this means is that tempo intersectional time entries (and timbral devices) are all loosely defined—from intention. The challenge of this work is not about pyrotechnical executions or the 'magnificent one has returned!'—rather Composition No. 40N is a direct statement about serious matters. This is a ballade-like sound space that changes into a static continuance when the string bass drops out (once the 'open space' is established). The reality of this phenomenon is relevant for the next cycle of participation dynamics.
Composition No. 40N is an extended platform for creative music that can be
utilized in many different ways. The work can be used as a platform for
solo and/or collective improvisation—and can also be performed by any
number and/or combination of instruments. In this way no one performance
can be used to stifle its structural potential. The musicians on the first
performance of this work were Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Barry Altschul and
myself. Composition No. 40N has since been performed all over the United
States and Western Europe. The use of drone structures and principle sound
centers will become increasingly important as we move into the next time
cycle. It is important that efforts are established in this period to
reunderstand harmony and primary substances. Composition No. 40 was
composed as a response to this phenomenon—as well as the challenge of
post-Coleman functional dictates. I believe that the work of John Coltrane
will take on even more importance than it already has—as we enter the next
cycle. His explorations of modal functionalism will aid the cause of music
(and creativity) as we enter into the twenty-first century. Composition
No. 40N is composed as a response to Mr. Coltrane's music, as well as the music
of Joseph Jarmen (the Composition [blank] and Kalaparusha Difta (his
Composition [blank]. All of these factors contributed to my
awareness of modalism and the power of one note.