Composition No. 51 is a fast tempo structure for the creative orchestra that was composed in the spring of 1976 in Woodstock, New York.  The reality of this structure is conceived as a traditional forum that contains extended conceptual and structural references—in its material and application dictates.  This is a world of sound events that establishes many different levels of simultaneous sound moments and 'inter-dialogues' in the music and its form.  Composition No. 51 is an active platform of multiple phrase grouping constructions that opens the space of the music—as a basis to establish new perceptions about time and space (and growth).  This is a highly charged work for creative orchestra that reawakens the 'session' period of swing and be-bop continuance—so that we can remember the 'excitement' that has always been associated with creative music.  Composition No. 51 is also a highly structured and precise musical space that rigidly constructs its moment dynamics and focus.  This is a sound universe of converging and dissolving phrase groupings that take on different forms and meanings in the course of a performance.  The reality of the work touches on many different sentiments that extend into the composite thrust (and purpose) of creative music—as a phenomenon that always forwards its tradition and future so that we can better understand 'living.'  Composition No. 51 is constructed as a multiple form that extends the 'big band' concept of the creative orchestra.  This is a complex forum of interlocking extended phrase groupings—in unison or in juxtaposition—that also contains individual and multiple solo statements.  The reality of this context establishes a dynamic forum of post-be-bop structural dynamics that is idiomatic in spirit and unique in character.  Composition No. 51 is a sound platform of rapid structural and focus exchanges that provides an active dynamic context for open and fixed conceptual (and structural) operatives.  A given performance of this work is a spirited 'occasion' that taps into the essence brilliance of post-Henderson/Ellington structural dynamics (and implications).  This is a big band music that relates to the toughness of the big band era (spirit)—as a forum to 'shout' about the strength of positive creativity and (growth).  Composition No. 51 is conceived as an offering to and from those 'golden moments'—offered through and from that continuum.  Here is a forum to 'get down' on—'either play or leave the room!'  I have dedicated this work to [blank]

Composition No. 51 is a series of interlocking material and structural (focus) sections that establishes a unique context for creative participation.  This is a music that proceeds from the expansion of its own material nature as a means to solidify a consistent procedure platform and/or character (identity).  The reality of this work was conceived in moment time without any overstructure dictates in either its harmonic or rhythmic specifics.  There are no themes as such in this context but rather extended material specifics that involve re-positioning some aspect of a given focus (intention) into the expanded construction specifics of the composite structure.  All of these considerations were used on the contour and focus of the music as I composed it in the moment of decision.  In its initial state, Composition No. 51 can be viewed as a response to given isolated musical ideas and components.  The work is conceived as a forum that contains three individual extended solo sections (with ensemble support) as well as intersecting improvisation—that utilizes the traditional feature of 'trading fours' between soloists.  Emphasis in this sound world centers on the textural nature of the music—especially the historical (traditional) realness of the brass section context—as a highly charged and diversified sound state.  Composition No. 51 attempts to reawaken our relationship to the power of the music in its sheer physical sense.  The reality of this environment was conceived as a challenge to both its instrumentalists and listeners.

The composite form spread of Composition No. 51 is A B C D (E1) (F1-F2-F3) (A2) (E2) G (G2) (A3) and each designant in this equation comments on what emphasis took place during the moment construction of the work.  Section A establishes the nature and invention strength of the music.  This is a sound block chord (beam) that establishes a principal motivic principle as well as an operating context for the focus of the music.  The reality of this material provides a 'centering' context for Composition No. 51 that can be used in the infrastructure reality of the music (as a dominant material focus that gives character and shape to the music's composite identity and as an infrastructural device that supports—and allows for—the phrase grouping specifics of its material ingredients.  The reality of this section provides the first real vibrational imprint of Compositino No. 51's real identity.  Once established in the music space, this material immediately positions itself as a principal focus and/or point of perception—for the composite reality of the music.  Section A consists of eight repeating sound chord blocks that alternate from one half note to one quarter note (extended in this context over a spread of twelve beats but in the composite scheme of the total structure is a repeating sound principle that can exist for any duration).  The reality of this material sets the stage for the vibrational weight and focus of the music.  Section A is the principal motivic phrase ingredient that determined and determines the reality dynamics of Composition No. 51 in both its generating and focus sense.  It is from thid point that the 'reality' of the form can be penetrated.

Section B establishes the principal tempo and character of the composite structure and also introduces the wind (reed) section into the sound space (of the music).  The reality of this section is a 32-bar time space that establishes the line and focus contour of the music.  In this structural context it is possible to view the progressional lineage of Composition No. 51 and what position this work occupies in the total context of its information scan.  Composition No. 51 is a multiple forum that extends into many different procedure and conceptual approaches.  Section B in its independent sense establishes the use of long extended phrase groupings as a line contour that intervallically extends into the greater space of the sound space.  Groupings in this context involve the use of unison phrase statements that are constructed in parallel voicings that open and broaden its sound materials.  The reed section here is called upon to execute extended eight-note phrase grouping statements that were carved from the traditional nature of the music.  Eight-note phrase constructions in this context can be viewed as a written solo postulation that took place 'somewhere in between 1945 and 1978' (something that could have been played by several thousand improvising creative musicians from that period—in any given night and/or moment).  The operative nature of Composition No. 51 was conceived as a forum that could apply long phrase constructions—from this intention and/or intensive perspective—into the material and structural nature of its reality, in the same sense as the 'Super Sax' reproductions of Charlie Parker's music; but in Composition No. 51 all phrase statements (ideas and moment formings) were written from my own perspective—from my own musical viewpoint.  The reality of this material was composed as eight phrase groupings spread over a thirty-two sound space—as a means to provide an 'accelerated' context for compositional and conceptual involvement.  The actual length and/or shape of a given phrase grouping in this context was established in the moment of construction (as a result of what I was hearing during the moment(s) of its actual construction—composing).  In its final material form—the phrase grouping specifics that solidifies Section A established eight different grouping sections that contained (in the order of the actual music):  a forty-one-note grouping, a sixty-note grouping, a fifteen-note grouping, a twenty-two-note grouping, a thirty-one-note grouping, a twenty-six-note grouping, a twenty-three-note grouping, and a fifteen-note grouping.  All of this material was voiced from a three-note chord patch that establishes parallel terms to be applied throughout the composite structure (but not as a law—I reserve the right to move out of any pattern whenever the music—and/or moment decisions—indicates that something else might be more relevant and/or interesting for my needs and/or intentions—or whatever).

Section C is a twelve-bar sound space that contains two basic material and conceptual components—the first of which involves the use of sectional riff-like phrase groupings (established in the brass section as a means to shift the sound texture from the prior emphasis on reed timbral specifics) and the second of which pertains to the opening of the brass section into a 'call and response'-like musical context that establishes the thrust of the music.  The first part of Section C can be viewed as a traditional phrase grouping rhythmic figure that can be found in various different disguises—from the 'swing' period to the present.  I chose this figure because it accurately responds to the extended reed section solo statements (in Section B)—by reestablishing the focus of the sound space (from an active to 'grounded' sound environment).  Section C can be viewed as a bridge section that redefines the sound space between Sections B and D.  This is a connecting sound section whose focuses move to reclarify the terms of the music's character—so that each subsequent additive can be viewed correctly.  The principal riff figure that allows this section to be effective is (figure [blank]). 

Section D is the second principal structural section in Composition No. 41.  The reality of this section serves as a focus and a unified forum that expands the nature of the music.  In this context syncopated phrase grouping statements are suspended into the space of the music as a basis to redirect our viewpoints about time and 'perceived development.'  All statements in this context are approached as a unified sound order phenomenon for the composite ensemble—as a means to affect the weight of the music sound space (as well as its focus).  Section D is an eight-bar time frame of unison phrase groupings—as this concept involves the use of rhythmic time (or phrase point) sound attacks—that are syncopated (in nature if not in reality) with respect to what effects they generate in the music.  The reality of this material is constructed as a continuous sound attack that 'staggers' the sound space through its reliance on the use of repeating sound shapes (and intentions).  As such the concept of syncopation that is practiced in this context does not involve the use of moving sound point changes and/or exchanges—as a phenomenon that makes one perceive active (smooth) moments (in the sense of a deep rhythmic basis that promotes 'centering').  Rather, syncopation in this context establishes a 'static' quality to the overall effect of its sound space and presence.  The nature of this assignment in Composition No. 51 is scored for the brass section of the orchestra.  Section D thus begins the next cycle of Composition No. 51's expanded personality.

Section E establishes the second principal construction criterion of Composition No. 51—as a conceptual and material factor that affects the composite identity of the music.  This is a forum of sound that allows for many different music focuses and/or attitudes (as a means to expand the operational space dynamics of the music).  Section E was conceived as a multiple sound forum that establishes terms for simultaneous sound events and focuses.  This is an active sound space forum that contains several different levels of musical activity.  The reality of this context establishes a dimensional sound space that is perceived in metric (rhythmic) and linear terms that pulsates with its own inner life.  Section E is constructed as a twenty-bar sound space that emphasizes independent sectional continuance (focus) as a basis to construct the widest possible sound space context.  By the term independent sectional continuance in this context, I am referring to the basic divisions that took place during the 'moment composing' of the work.  Those divisions are:  separate reed section groupings, separate trumpet section, separate trombone section, and separate lower voices (combined with the rhythm section).  Section E unfolds as a unified sound state that carries forward the rhythmic sound attack points of Section D.  This is immediately changed when the reed section begins to establish active phrase grouping constructions that open up the tension of the sound space.  In its accelerated sense Section E arrives at a highly 'involved' music state that contains 'swirls' of multiple sound events.  The rhythm section (with tuba) in this section is used as an anchoring device that extends the forward motion of the composite music (and in doing so clarifying the procedure dictates of Section D's use of rhythmic phrase points).

Section F is the solo region of Composition No. 51—consisting in this case of three back-to-back thirty-two bar solo statements by baritone saxophone, first trumpet, and first alto saxophone.  This is the section that opens up the sound space of the music to the dynamic implications of extended improvisation (as practiced from and in the tradition of the music).  The nature of this context is approached with respect to the progressional continuum of the music—as a means to tap into the wellspring of secrets that underlies what this phenomenon is.  Extended solos in Section E are executed from the traditional soloist/rhythm section format that characterizes be-bop and post-be-bop structural dynamics.  After the first solo takes place structural 'supporting' phrase grouping statements are written in the wind and brass sections (respectively) as a means to provide texture and sound balance for the composite music.  Section F can be viewed as the 'release' valve of Composition No. 51.  It is in this section where the forward thrust—and pulse—of the music can be sensed.

In Section G I have positioned the concept of 'trading fours' into the music as a means to create the kind of excitement that only the big band context can give.  Trading fours in this context involves four-bar (actually eight-bar) improvisations that shift from soloist to soloist.  The use of this strategy has been handed down through every period and focus of the music—from dixieland music to the present.  I have also situated (positioned) the use of notated phrase grouping statements in this same forum—as a means to solidify a dense volcano-like music that is highly charged and exciting.  Composition No. 51 was conceived as a challenging and emotional platform for extended involvement.  The reality of this work was conceived as a structure to activate when something is needed to stimulate and 'affect' the sound environment (or context).  This is a forum that can be offered when all else has failed—as a stimulant that gives pause to the moment for reflection—'because something has been presented which must be considered.'  Composition No. 51 is a sound universe that pulsates from its own terms (and spread or spreading effect).

Composition No. 51 is an expanding universe of multiple sound and focus perceptions that establishes its own way of dealing with 'sound space' (continuance).  All of the additional sectional parameters of this work can be viewed as a variation of the basic seven components of the form (Sections A to G).  This is a work whose material basis extended from moment decisions (and/or attitudes) into the infrastructure terrain of the music.

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Anthony Braxton, Composition Notes C (Frog Peak, 1988: 262-277)