Serial Samba

Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
2 minutes
Modern classical music
Solo instrument (Piano)
Instrumental parts
Not available

A companion piece to 'Twelve Tone Tango', this is my second essay in combining Latin rhythms and tone row techniques. Both pieces, under the heading 'Two Dodecaphonic Dances', are programmed for a concert in London on 4th March 2011 with Derek Foster at the piano.

Derek pointed out that my chosen tone row - a wedge shape starting at C - has the same structure as that used by Luigi Nono in 'Il Canto sospeso'. I was not familiar with Nono's work prior to writing the Samba so this came as an intriguing surprise and a humbling confirmation that there can be nothing new under the sun.

The initial challenge in applying serial techniques to a dance form that relies so heavily on regular four-bar tonal harmonies was finding a non-tonal row that could generate suitable chordal sequences. Telescoping the wedge shape I'd chosen did just that - it produced three chords of four notes each that I could then use fairly freely within the four-bar pulse of the dance. So, not strict serialism as Nono might have known it.

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