Composition No. 58 is an extended structure for the creative marching orchestra that was composed in 1976 in Woodstock, New York. In this work the familiar and extended implications of march music dynamics are focused on as a basis to expand the spectrum focus of creative exploration. Composition No. 58 is constructed as a complete march structure with all of the traditional divisions and components that have come to establish the uniqueness of that medium. This is a complete music structure, rather than a single-line structure (phrase grouping) that includes the use of traditional vertical harmonic constructions, break string sections and thematic material focus. The traditional aspects of Composition No. 58 are constructed to exist and sound like any normal march music one might find on the radio or street. This was necessary because the extended implications of the work involve the weight of what is perceived as normal (traditional)—as a point of definition to view structural evolution (and growth). Composition No. 58 is conceived as an experience that opens up the sound space of the music—to show us that nothing is necessarily what it seems 'or is in only one state.' The reality of this structure takes one on a journey that starts from the familiar and moves into the abstract, from what was comfortable and 'perceived known' (experienced) to 'what must now be paid attention to' (learned). This is a 'perceived' light structure that is offered in the dynamic tradition of march music continuance. The reality of this effort is constructed as a march structure that can actually be marched to—and performed in a parade. By providing this function Composition No. 58 seeks to reunite into the composite realness of march music dynamics—reconnecting to the activity done in Sedalia, Missouri and New Orleans. Composition No. 58 is an extended structural platform that establishes traditional march music tendencies as a basis for post-AACM creative exploration dynamics. The reality of this work is conceived as a time warp musical context that suddenly shifts into another gear (and later returns). With an experience of this nature it is possible to re-see (experience) the familiar. Composition No. 58 is dedicated to the master composer John Phillip Sousa.
Composition No. 58 is a medium fast march that extends into the open space of the music. The primary material of the work (the traditional material) is constructed in the key of E—and the extended sections are 'extended' (no tonality but not atonality—which is an attitude). The composite form of the work consists of eleven different components—A B C D E (E2) F (F2) (F3) G H I. The traditional notated (material) sections of Composition No. 58 were constructed as a response to the music (and overall reality) of John Phillip Sousa's music—in particular his composition 'The Stars and Stripes Forever.' In fact this composition would serve as a kind of role model for Composition No. 58 (that gave insight into the creative dynamics of march music—and what can be done in the medium). The traditional notated sections of Composition No. 58 were constructed with traditional four-part harmony—in the same spirit and character as 'The Stars and Stripes Forever.' The harmony understructure of this material was approached as a unified state that is non-complex and direct. This is every music you've ever heard ('at the high school basketball game'). Section A establishes the principal melody of the work—which is constructed in four-bar phrase statements, plus a secondary melody (that is approached as a counter melody that broadens the sound space). Once that material is stated the basic focus of the music is established.
It is in Section E where the extended implications of Composition No. 58's structure begin the process of material and focus transformation—and it is from this vantage point that the work's real intention(s) can be viewed. Section E is a twenty-nine measure section of extended break string off-rhythmic (accenting) material that attempts to dismantle the metric (pulse) implications of break string music as a means to establish fresh operatives (and context) for post-Ayler creative exploration. The whole of this section is divided between upper and lower voice sound responses that extend into the composite space of the music. This is a sound world of extended accents that establishes its own relationship with the space of the music. In the beginning of Section E the form and shape of the music appear to be possibly only a minor (or interesting) extension from the traditional perception of break string structure dynamics—later it becomes clear that the actual music (state) ha changed (transformed). Section E is the first section in Composition No. 58 to open up into non-tonality (as a basis for realignment) and pulse expansion (as a means to move towards an active sound space context that transcends any one fixed concept of time). The composite thrust of Section E immediately addresses the concept of fixed time by realigning the pulse basis of the break string concept. What this does is open up the composite space of the music, creating a sea of off and on beat accents that extends with its own logic and vibrational state. This is a rhythmic music state that gives a refreshing context for extended solo postulation. Section E2 continues the same rhythmic process established in Section E1 but open the pitch decisions of the music for individual decisions. In other words Section E2 is a 'structural state of being' that emphasizes a process as opposed to a specific. The reality of this section can be viewed from the context of 'the floor dropping out from under your feet'—that being, from a constant sound (element) state that proceeds from a specific criterion to a sound state whose individual components defy any one perspective. Both Sections E1 and E2 are extended musical platforms that serve as sound fabric material underneath designated long solos. I have constructed this section as an explosive forum that provides a unique context for creative exploration. The emphasis in this state is directed at the reality of pulse shifting cycles as an alternative device for future constructions dictates.
Section F is a sound environment section that opens up the space of the music to provide contrast from Section F. This is a thin-textured sound space that consists of two most basic components—that being (1) the use of a repeating five-note phrase grouping coupled with the (2) use of air (and white noise sound). The reality of this combination of factors provides a dynamic context for extended improvisation. This is a live sound environment that is active and positive in nature. The repeating five-note grouping (pattern) serves as a stabilizing factor that is hung in the sound space of the music—to give vibrational weight and focus to the music. This is in fact a kind of good ole southern melody that I have heard in some combination somewhere (?). I felt a light motif of this kind could maintain the positive and vibrational identity of the music (and in doing so remind us of the composite route of the music—and that this has come from a march. As this figure dances in the sound space of Section F it also promotes a sound point in the form to measure (feel) the multiple levels of the music. Section F was constructed as a medium fast pulse sound space that anchors the presence of the music (by becoming a primary focus that is dynamic in its own right) and regenerates the composite thrust of the music. The soloist in this context is thrown into an already 'involved' sound space that contains multiple ingredients (events). Interpretation here must be cast into the composite arena of the activity (and as such the soloist invention establishes the principal focus of the sound space). What this means is that the reality of extended improvisation (as this concept relates to the needs of the soloist) redictates what role its support initiations can have in the greater thrust of a music space. Section F in this context becomes a three-part sound environment platform that is perceived (1) from the point of the solist (as a primary point of perception dynamics—focus), (2) from the point of the repeating five-note phrase (as a phenomenon that gives an overall sense of the pulse and depth of the sound space—and as such gives emphasis—support—to the soloist intervention) and (3) from the use of air and/or white noise sound (as a personal sound type that filters into the sound space that re-accents the diversity and nature of the sound space—and the soloist).
Section G is the third extended section of Composition No. 58. In many ways both this section and Section F can be viewed as an inner composition with its own separate life. Because the attention in Sections F and G is directed at the edge of what a given consideration could mean for the functional and conceptual growth (continuance) of the music, while the traditional material sections were approached as a response to what is perceived as normal. Section G is introduced by a four-bar drum cadence (as a wedge to move from one section to the next). The reality of this section was conceived as a third and final forum for extended solo statements. In Section G the repeating five-note motif of Section F is translated into sixteenth note three-sound attacks by the brass section. What this does is change the weight and presence of the sound space (the change from three woodwind instruments that repeated a light dancing-like melody to the use of 'sound attack' phrases played by both the trumpet and trombone sections). The establishment of this new pattern sequence adds a new sense of urgency to Composition No. 58's use of a series of chords and chord groupings sound blocks ('points') that redirects the focus of the music. This material is regulated through the use of isolated time point cues—that are controlled by the conductor. There are six different cues for this section (so that it can be fitted into the sound space—under the soloist—when appropriate). The reality of Section F can be viewed as a dynamic forum for extended improvisation.
Composition No. 58 is a dynamic structure for the creative orchestra that can be utilized as a unique platform for improvisation. I have constructed this vehicle as a testament to the wonder of march music and march music dynamics. The challenge of the next time cycle will call for an expanded awareness of creative music—regardless of region and/or perceived classification. For the most part the traditional material structure of Composition No. 58 is complete in terms of its march music construction specifics. I did, however, decide to replace the concept of the piccolo solo (featured in 'The Stars and Stripes Forever') and use a piccolo trumpet in its place. Moreover, to make the concept even more interesting, the piccolo trumpet is given chord changes instead of fixed notated music. With this feature the solo part in Section J will always be 'fresh' (should always be fresh).
Composition No. 58 is one of six works that was composed for a recording date for Arista Records. The first recording of this work took place in May, 1976 in New York City and the musicians in the orchestra were [blank] The three soloists on that occasion were Leo Smith (Section E), George Lewis (Section F) and myself (Section G)—and John Foddis played the piccolo trumpet solo. The work has since been performed all over America and Western Europe.