Composition No. 77E is built from five notes (G, Ab, C, D, Eb) basically and was designed as a vehicle to make a shakuhachi type music.  (I have long been interested in this kind of approach.)  There are three basic treatments in this version, one—the basic statement of material with respect to the five note row, two—the use of this same concept with the addition of circular breathing and three—the fragmented use of given figures.  This composition was also constructed to utilize a more accented vibrato in given sections, and also half tone and micro tuning.  As an improvisor this composition presents a special challenge in that its reality is not separate from world culture and as such, this work represents a new beginning to solidify a wider basis for working material—for me that is.  This composition is dedicated to the dancer Sheila Raz.

Anthony Braxton, liner notes to Alto Saxophone Improvisation 1979 (Arista A2L 8602); also Composition Notes D (Frog Peak, 1988: 196)


Composition No. 77E is a material concept for solo improvisation that was composed circa 1976.  The work was conceived as a unique sound forum that contains fresh surprises for creative exploration (and focus).  In Composition No. 77E we are made aware of the ancient and future dynamics of creative music—as a force that is relevant to what must be learned (and introduced) in this time period.  The realness of this structure unfolds itself as a reconnection to the ancient values and tendencies of world music dynamics.  Composition No. 77E is a five-note scale system context that seeks to emphasize fixed properties in a variety of pulse and phrase construction settings.  This is a perceived linear sound continuum that establishes several different levels of creative dialogue—and purpose.  Here is a forum to recall the greatness of Trans Asian and African affinity dynamics—and the wonderful projections that have come into existence from those areas.  Composition No. 77E takes a five-note principle as a basis to reinvestigate the concept of harmony and open material formings.  A given interpretation of this work moves to solidify a module-like sound state that bends in and out of the music.  In this world of sound the instrumentalist is asked to 'move in between' the sounds of the music as a means to reconnect into quarter tones and fresh emphasis.  Composition No. 77E is a slow pulse sound environment that breathes on several different levels—in both its material focus and material properties.  To really participate in this work the instrumentalist is expected to (1) first establish the scalular thrust of the materials (in a linear and 'perceived melodic-like' sense) and (2) establish a vibrato emphasis section (that gives fresh insight into what this consideration could mean from 'another mentality') and (3) establish a circular breathing section that emphasizes an arpeggio adaptation of those materials.  All of these variables are related to the composite nature of Composition No. 77E—this is true even through the work contains no fixed phrase grouping materials.  Composition NO. 77E is a performance state that seeks to emphasize fixed sound and scale materials as a basis to create a music (state) that contains few operating variables.  It is fashionable in this time period to confuse the amount of materials that make up an intention as more important than its assignment.  This is especially apparent in light of the present-day wonder of 'abundance.'  Composition No. 77E was realized as a discipline that could help shed light on the process and phenomenon of creativity.  The challenge of making five sounds come alive as a reality context involves establishing a broader concept of application and selection.  A given interpretation of Composition No. 77E should give insight into the nature of sound and sound order.  Sometimes real freedom can only be attained through limitation—that is, the concept of freedom is all in the mind (and can be worked out separately from any physical universe objectives).  Composition No. 77E is an opportunity to connect with the vibrational offerings of those old great master musicians (thinkers) from days gone by.  We cannot go into the future without their help.

Composition No. 77E is a dynamic material environment structure that seeks to provide a unique context for post-AACM structural dynamics.  The work was originally conceived as a focus that would broaden my language music material operatives (and help clarify the dynamics of solo performance).  I have found Composition No. 77E to be especially useful as a vehicle in performance programming because the dynamics of the work contains its own special variables and vibrational presence.  Composition No. 77E represents a resurgence of interest in harmony and fixed pitch variables.  I believe the future will see more than one relationship solidify with music science—involving both vertical and horizontal systems that transcend any one application.  Composition No. 77E is an attempt to connect into the greater arena of world culture tendencies and reexamine the role of harmony and non-familiar vibrational emphases.  In the early performances of this work I consciously tried to think about the great Asian master musicians and 'what they might have played' in the music.  This was necessary because I had no idea what to do—or what to play.  I also tried to approach the music with respect to what I had been hearing on my records of Indian music or Chinese music.  After a period of two to three years I came to better understand the uniqueness of the context (and its variables) and what it has posed to the spread of my own musical growth.  Composition No. 77E is a five-note system scale that can be organized in many different ways (from many different intentions) as a strategy (mixture) that produces unique results.  It is important to elaborate on the three previously mentioned performance variables—because it is here where one can best gain insight into the workings of the music.  The first performance catgory involves the establishment of a slow pulse music state that emphasizes long phrase grouping statements (in particular the reality of this phenomenon as it involves the moment to moment scalular decisions that make up a given idea).  In this first context it is possible to view Composition No. 77E as a slow ballade-like music that contains what appears to be 'exotic' type sound tendencies (that are initially experienced as being 'not American').  For the instrumentalist this 'performance state' has more to do with the awareness of fresh sound change possibility (and 'insecurity'—because of the difference of the 'presence' of the music state) and the 'wonder' of creative exploration.  Interpretation in this context unfolds the 'unfolding' of the music—as a process that becomes materialized ('made real') in moment time.  The second conceptual tendency of Composition No. 77E has to do with the use of vibrato and sound bending devices to color the focus (and sound) of the music.  Vibrato sound shapes in this context are approached as a language factor that 'smears' a composite line or 'sound mass' movement as well as a 'micro tuning-like' consideration that dances in between the phrases of the music.  A given interpretation of Composition No. 77E should contain a developed use of 'vibrato shaped' sound moments (ideas) and emphases.  The vibrato in this context can be used as a 'cry' that smears from 'thought to thought' or as a 'whining-like' sound attitude that is applied on both thick and thin sound passages, or as a 'light' that seeks to remind us of 'back then.'  The concept of a vibrato sound is a powerful thought that is not of this 'realm of being' (entirely—just like everything else).

In the third procedure criterion the instrumentalist is expected to apply circular breathing techniques in the music to extend its effects and focus.  Circular breathing in this context can be applied to line formations (or shapes) or intervallic grouping statements.  The use of this device can help to spread the contour of the music so that its invention can breathe (the 'open up').  (There is also the added ingredient of circular breathing as a technique that allows for establishing 'rest' points in the forward spread of the music—that being establishing repeating 'variables' that can be put on 'automatic' so the interpreter can have a 'couple of moments' to him/herself).  A given use of this consideration can clarify the shape or intervallic specifics of the music and also allow for new—and/or unknown—variables to enter into consciousness.  Composition No. 77E seeks to remind us of the past (and the excitement that perpetuated forward movement).

Composition No. 77E is a lyrical sound state forum that establishes 'an illusion of (sound) moments' for creative exploration.  The reality of this phenomenon is actualized with respect to the construction dynamics and implications of five central sound pitches (which serve as springboards for all invention decisions).  This is a music that keeps changing the position of its variables so that we can experience fresh 'incentives' (for participation and perceiving).  Composition No. 77E is a five-note emphasis structure that allows for a particular approach to creative exploration.  In this work the instrumentalist is challenged to construct a tonal-like sound state that activates its own initiatives (and purposes).  Originally the work was conceived as a meditative structure that reawakens our respect for the past (and spiritual information).  My interest in this objective was first influenced by the work of John Coltrane and Ravi Shankar.  The forward development of creative music is not separate from whether or not efforts are made to solidify the broadest possible context for creative awareness.  It is important to review the spectrum of earth creativity as a basis to move into the future—because every projection is necessarily connected to 'essence realness' of this experience (the concept of 'living').  Composition No. 77E is a five-note scale system that is given [blank] material and material shape options for creative exploration.  A given interpretation of this material can be fitted to the needs and moment objectives of each soloist—there is no one approach and/or application of these variables, but rather all events in this context are visually stretched and flexible 'to the moment.'  Composition No. 77E is an attempt to connect into the reality and vibrational dyanmics of world culture—and in particular the empires of 'the ancients.'

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Anthony Braxton, Composition Notes D (Frog Peak, 1988: 196-204)