Composition No. 77C is a work designed to deal with the dynamic possibilities of a major third diatonic phrase (i.e. CDE, DEF, EFG, etc.).  This version can be broken into three sections—original position, extended position, and mixed position.  Original position is only the basic use of this principle in its normal diatonic state\with the added possibility of changing keys whenever desired.  The extended position of this technique has to do with the modification of some aspect of its use—which in this improvisation was an intervallic separation.  The mixed position of this technique utilizes the same 'germ figure' with the added use of melodic material—that is, improvisation utilizing melodic organization and conventional development.  This composition is dedicated to my friend Barbara Mayfield.

Anthony Braxton, liner notes to Alto Saxophone Improvisation 1979 (Arista A2L 8602); also Composition Notes D (Frog Peak, 1988: 174-175)


Composition No. 77C is a language structure for extended improvisation.  The work was conceived as a horizontal sound continuum that provides a unique context for creative exploration.  In this sound universe the instrumentalist is given a three-note diatonic principle that forms the moment to moment fabric of the music.  This is a linear sound state environment that only contains suggestions about the 'moment.'  Composition No. 77C was conceived as a material forum that emphasizes 'loop' shapes as a basis for creative invention.  A given version of this work should establish a kind of loping music that 'curls' through the sound space.  This is accomplished through the use of a diatonic three-note process that permeates the composite personality of the music.  To experience what this phenomenon means is to enter a song-like music state that expresses itself 'in bright lights' (sounds) (because this is a kind of 'wistful' music).  My original conception of the work was that Composition No. 77C could be approached as a song that transcended any one fixed construction criterion—that is, a lyrical sound environment that contains a unified material state (or fabric).  As such, in that context the line shape dynamics of the work encompasses the concept of a theme and/or personality.  Composition No. 77C was conceived as a song music state that emphasizes given loop shape strategies as a basis for commonality and surprise.  A given interpretation of this material should establish a kind of 'sound story' for the listener (and instrumentalist) to follow.  This is a platform to explore the wonder of sound lyricism and vibrational dynamics.  The work establishes a medium pulse sound attitude that is comfortable to experience and flexible in design.  Starting from a unified mezzo forty sound interpretation the instrumentalist is asked to weave 'an old tale' about the logic relationship of these variables for everyone to 'see' (know).  This intention is to be a gentle and 'clear' experience that makes us wonder at the 'flight' of the music.  And throughout the whole of the experience the instrumentalist is expected to keep the 'attention' of the audience (this must be the first prerequisite of any real artist).  Composition No. 77C is a language continuum environment for one soloist.  Originally the work was constructed for my own needs as an alto saxophonist.  This is a material fabric structure that provides an emphasis for focus (isolation) and reexamination.  The challenge of the next time cycle will call for fresh insight into the nature of material fundamentals and juxtapositioning.  Composition No. 77C is an extended fabric continuum that 'points' its variables into the space of the music.  This is a 'light story in sound' that dances across the space of the sound ('into our minds').  I have always been fascinated by the realness and power of music and its ability to make us feel 'respect.'

Composition No. 77C is a medium pulse material platform that allows for extended improvisation.  This is a three-note diatonic phrase (fabric) sound approach that winds into the space of the music.  The instrumentalist is given examples of this device that can be used to fashion a musical attitude and moment focus.  Improvisation in this context involves taking the material components of the music as a starting point to spread into the 'folds' of its invention.  Ideas in the world of sound come together from a linear phrase grouping construction mentality that 'spins' ideas from the matrix of its construction materials into the 'air' of the music.  The reality of this concept involves the use of fixed three-note diatonic line formations that can be applied to the forward spread of all subsequent invention decisions.  What this means is that the interpreter can take a given phrase moment and apply one of [blank] variables to establish a musical idea—or 'perceived sound moment.'  The excitement that generated this structure involved the use of changing scale systems and vibrational tonalities in the infrastructure of the unfolding music.  There are four structural directives that must be considered:  that being, the use of a primary three-note principle as (1) a linear phrase grouping line construction (formation) that travels in a given sound direction (i.e. ascending or descending), (2) as an intervallic consideration that activates unique exploration tendencies, (3) as a static sound state factor that deviates from the perceived thrust of the first two directives and finally (4) as an isolated focus consideration that magnifies either a sound register or focus objective (in the music).

In the first context the use of ascending and descending line formations involves the use of changing scale systems that give the interpreter endless sound (thought) possibilities.  This context in fact opens the 'face' of the music and defines our first perception of its sound state.  Composition No. 77C first reveals itself as a medium pulse line continuance that actualizes a consistent 'loop-like' phrase process (in its moment to moment phrase construction dynamics).  The instrumentalist is asked to take this material as a starting point to weave in and through the music—with special emphasis on what this process means to the 'central core' of one's given instrument (that being the middle register contour of the music as the primary area for all invention decisions).  The first operational criterion of Composition No. 77C involves how the initial systems of the music are established and later developed in the moment to moment 'spread' of the music.  In the second structural directive of the music, the interpreter is asked to expand the fabric content of the music with the use of intervallic material objectives.  With this consideration the focus of the music can be opened up to extend 'the influence' of the music.  In many cases the use of intervallic phrase grouping constructions can be viewed as akin to having a 'divided-like' music state—in the sense of a conversation (that contains two or more people).  The instrumentalist is asked to take this operative and use it as a wedge to divide the sound space of the music—to establish different moment (objectives) possibilities in the music.  This is necessary if we are to better understand the use of Composition No. 77C's material nature.  The use of this device can be introduced into the music in a way that keeps the 'freshness' of the music in tact (and this is especially important to the continuity of solo improvisation because it is important to maintain the 'level' (vibrational level of the music).  The concept of language music is directly related to the challenge of improvisation (and how this discipline can assist in reestablishing fresh insight into world unification).  This is not an open forum that contains no responsibilities for its instrumentalist—or 'asks no questions':  rather, improvisation is viewed with respect to its composite position in the music and its (the music's) process.  Visually this phenomenon can be isolated and viewed in these terms (i.e. figure [blank]).

The third structural directive of Composition No. 77C involves the use of static improvisation as a means to open up the space of the music.  To understand this operative is to view the whole of the music—for the most basic characteristic of Composition No. 77C establishes a pulse—or medium slow to medium pulse presence—that permeates the lining of its composite invention.  The realness of this consideration is involved in the normal lining of the music (whether stated or not).  As such, the third structural directive of Composition No. 77C was conceived as a criterion that could open up the music (to allow for a more relaxed sound space and for non-focused 'realizations'—to transcend what is possible through 'intentions').  It is from this criterion that the instrumentalist can have an opportunity to 'make a mistake' or 'find out who's playing the music.'  In other words the discipline of improvisation can allow for many different levels of involvement (depending on each individual's relationship to 'perceived' and 'not perceived' existence).  Participation with respect to the third structural directive of Composition No. 77C involves creating opposition 'idea pockets' in the music that emphasize tendencies not found in the first two directives.  This phenomenon is 'allowed to' happen by consciously establishing a fresh pulse (and/or 'presence') perspective for invention dynamics.  To experience (and participate) in this phenonenon is to establish a 'change' in the perceived thrust of the music.  When this intention is allowed to happen the resulting invention (music) is perceived as 'fresh' (or 'one the edge of relevance')—and this is what is needed.  The final construction directive of Composition No. 77C involves the use of isolated focus as a material and/or structural factor that allows for focus directives (in the moment to moment unfolding of the music).  By the term isolated focus I am referring to the use of establishing preconceived—or 'moment conceived' variables (in the idea fabric of the music) as a structural consideration that allows for a balanced and diversified improvisation.  The instrumentalist in Composition N. 77C is asked to actualize a music state that gives many different shading and timbres.  To achieve this objective it is important that one's improvisation is approached with respect to all of its material and conceptual implications (the instrumentalist needs the diversity and so does the listener).  The fourth construction directive of Composition No. 77 asks the interpreter to think in terms of isolating a given sound register approach to improvisation as well as a material context improvisation.  When this directive is established the music appears to be 'fresh' (and 'inviting').

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Anthony Braxton, Composition Notes D (Frog Peak, 1988: 175-182)