liner notes to Creative Orchestra Music 1976 (Arista 4080)
by Anthony Braxton

This disc represents my first opportunity to have compositions for large ensemble available on record and I am grateful to the many people who have made this possible.  All of the compositions on this record were composed for this particular date and represent a cross-section of my work in this area.  I refer to this medium as Creative Orchestra Music both as a means to seperate this activity from my work in notated Orchestra music and also because I feel the phrase Creative Orchestra Music best describes this medium.  For to understand what has been raised in the progression of creative music as it has been defined through the work of the Ellington-Hendersons-Mingus's-Colemans-etc., is to be aware of the most significant use of the orchestra medium in the past hundred years (and some).

It is difficult if not impossible for me to write about how I see by work in creative music, for I have never felt that words are meaningful when aplied to creativity\and yet something has to be written—for many of the mis-conceptions that surround creative music are still with us today.  For that reason I have written briefly on each composition with the hope that even a structural analysis can give the listener some idea as to how I conceived the compositions which comprise this record.  I would also like to thank the musicians on this record.  I consider myself fortunate to have had the chance to work with these people.  Who else would have played this music with so little rehearsal time (the average rehearsal time for each composition was a little more than two hours) and nobody had seen the music in advance.

Anthony Braxton, Summer, 1976

Piece One

[Composition 51] utilizes the concept of rotation as this applies to structural pivit points (ie: brass against reeds) and was conceived as a structure which could function in a traditional context.  The elements in this composition would have to do with linear gravalic weight and/or a motific germ factor (ie: applied as a functional characteristic and/or basis for extension) in the brass section.  This version was structured for three soloists and also employs each soloist in three structural variations of the solo format (ie: traditional extension-forms-collective).

Piece Two

[Composition 56] is a condensed version of my work in the open-ended improvisation format.  The basic considerations utilized in this composition would best be understood by experiencing both the interrelationship of events and the pulse-flow that determines how these events will be approached.  The distinguishing properties of this composition would most certainly be use of space and texture (for I have long been concerned with the functional space of the improvisor in both the large and small medium).  This composition represents then my involvement with process for the infra-structure of creative improvised music in this medium.

Piece Three

[Composition 58] represents my interest in parade music (both as an avenue for extension as well as a legitimate form to be pursued on its own).  This particular composition has three structured extensions for the creative improvisor (and also the piccolo trumpet is used in a creative context rather than the traditional notated piccolo solo).  This performance represents about two-thirds of the complete material (and idea) but it was necessary to omit some parts of this composition for the balance of the total record.  I have omitted two structural extensions and a Tutti improvisational section.

Piece Four

[Composition 57] is also a condensed version of events for the open-ended improvisational situation.  The major elements at work in this piece are textural and the degree which certain groups of instruments are utilized in opposition to each other.  Working structures here are structured around the long textural sound moving in a somewhat parallel movement.  The events (improvisations) are structured in relationship to the concept of extremes (ie: vibes against bass marimba-bass sax against contra-bass sax) but there are also duets for flute and piano and trombone/cello.

Piece Five

[Composition 55] was inspired from Duke Ellington (I have been listening to Duke very intensely in this period).  There are also elements of my work in repetition structure in this composition but the nature of how this repetition is utilized is somewhat different from my other recorded pieces in this vein.  I have developed three categories of repetition for the creative improvisor: (ie: Kelvin-Colbolt-Kaufman).  This composition, while not completely representing my Kaufman group of repetition—is the first recorded work with this principle (however the approach has been altered for this particular compositional slant\which is of course traditional in character.)  This piece also utilizes intervallic shifts as a distinguishing functional factor—and the traditional vamp is a propellsion device.

Piece Six

[Composition 59] was conceived as a vehicle for Roscoe Mitchell and myself.  This composition is the only piece on the record without percussion (or a rhythm section for that matter).  The structure of this work is ABCBA.  The A sections are completely notated.  The first B section is an alto solo (by Roscoe) and the second B section is a soprano solo by myself.  The C section is a controlled ensemble improvisation utilizing a tenbral approach with regards to the long sound with variation.  This composition functions from a post-Webern conceptual context and yet this is not a serialized work.  Yet this appraoch is concerned with weight-shifts and attacks.  Section A is written using conventional notation, while scetion B employs a controlled governing format (where events are regulated with regards to cue points and activation-sequences).  Section C is conceptually arranged outside of standard functional systems.


These notes republished with the permission of Anthony Braxton.

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