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Complements V

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

Complements V was commissioned by Sarah Yaksic for her graduate clarinet recital. The central pitch class set was derived from her name: S = Eb, A = A, R = D (Re), A = A, H = B. There is also a rhythmic motive which is based on Morse code for “Sarah” which uses the pitch classes F#, G, and Ab. The third element is a quasi Bb Aeolian collection using Bb, C, Db, and F. These eleven pitch classes complement the last pitch: E.

The first line is an introduction using an expressive, elongated version of the “Sarah” pitch motive, decorated by the other eight pitch classes. The next line introduces the “Sarah” rhythmic motive using Morse code. After a brief return to the “Sarah” pitches, the Bb Aeolian collection unfolds, but is constantly interrupted by the “Sarah” rhythms. At the peak of the Bb Aeolian collection, the “Sarah” pitches take over, but then become a constant murmur in the lower register, with interruptions by fragments of the Morse code pitches in the mid-register, and the Bb Aeolian collection in the upper register. These three elements, and the addition of (optional) flutter-tongue, culminate in a burst of notes (“LIKE A GASP!”), that resolve with the arrival of the low E (“like a sigh”), which is the first time E has been heard since the very first note of the piece. This also completes the aggregate.

The middle section is made up of figuration using complementing hexachords based on minor 11 chords a tritone apart (E root and Bb root), as well as an E Aeolian melody which is an elongation of the Bb Aeolian melody from the first section.

The transition into the closing section wanders through inversions and transpositions of the “Sarah” motive, and leads into another “perpetual motion” section like the beginning. The pitch collections swap rhythmic treatment: the Morse code pitches use the rhythm of the Bb Aeolian collection when it first appeared, the Bb Aeolian pitches use the repeated 8th note rhythm of the “Sarah” motive, there is an interruption by a return of the opening line, and finally a culmination of the “Sarah” pitches played simultaneously with the “Sarah” Morse code. The piece closes with two “cadencial,” complementing uses of the aggregate, ending with a triumphant statement of the Morse code rhythm on the highest note heard in the whole piece: E.

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