Momente 1.618.....

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�Momente - 1.618� is inspired by the works of Darmstadt colleagues Luciano Berio (1925 - 2003) Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 - ) and Pierre Boulez (1925 - ). In particular, comparisons can be drawn with Stockhausen�s electronic, moment-form work of 1960 entitled �Kontakte�. Stockhausen himself describes moment form as thus; "Each moment… is individual and self-regulated, and able to sustain an independent existence… moments are not merely consequents of what precedes them and antecedents of what follows; rather than concentration on the Now – on every Now – as if it were a vertical slice dominating over any horizontal conception of time and reaching into timelessness, which I call eternity: an eternity which does not begin at the end of time, but is attainable at every moment." [sic]

The work is essentially a juxtaposition of the rolling serial harmonic language of Berio and the moment form structures of Stockhausen. �Momente � 1.618� is a series of seventeen independent �sequenzas� that are bound by harmonic uniformity, organic growth and development. These �sequenzas� are however also spatially independent, each having their own �vertical instant�. The composer initially has chosen to use a ten pitch tone row as a compostional tool. The pitches are used in sequences of ten, after which the first pitch is dropped out and the eleventh is added. This technique continues as illustrated below (see figure I) and is most perceptible at the beginning of the work through to Bar 13. From this point onwards, the row is transposed, retrograded, inverted and segmented in techniques similar to those used by Alban Berg ( 1885 - 1935). As the work develops, the row is used as more of a basis for melodic shape and harmonic potential than the strict serial process of the opening.

The numeral �1.618� is an oxymoronic reference to the so called divine proportion or �phi� (see figure II). The phi ratio has been used throughout history as a foundation for both natural and synthetic forms. Artists and architects have used this proportion to create not only aesthetically pleasing works of art but also structurally sound constructions. Composers from the classical, romantic and contemporary periods such as Mozart, Brahms, Bart�k and Debussy have applied this ratio to their musical forms. For example, the recapitulation of the first subject in the first movement of Beethoven�s fifth symphony appears exactly 0.618 through the movement. This structural exactitude contradicts Stockhausen�s theory of seemingly unsystematic developmental processes and climaxes.

As a vehicle to emphasise the principles of this form, the composer has added a series of three independent silent sequenzas. These sequenzas serve two functions, the initial function being the creation of a tense �moment�. This leaves the listener with little sense of climax or duration, prompting them to subconsciously speculate when the next moment will begin. Also, in keeping with Stockhausen�s philosophy, these silent sequenzas appear to lengthen in duration only to deceive the listener with a shorter silent moment at bar 187. The composer has also endeavoured to emulate the technical sound world of Boulez, creating audible quarter-tones within overtones. This is done by combining very high frequency string harmonics with the rich, warm, reverberating overtones of bowed percussion. As a result of testing, the string harmonics should still be audible in conjunction with the percussion, despite the required amplification. Examples of these techniques can be heard in sequenzas VI and VII.

Michael Walters 2005.

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
9 minutes
Large mixed ensemble
Modern classical music
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