Title: Distant Voices I & II
Year Completed: 2002
Duration: 8 mins
Instrumentation: Flute and Piano
Premiere: 2004 SUNY Buffalo: Derek Charke, flute and Evan Johnson, piano
Purchase/Rent: Canadian Music Centre
Distant Voices was written for a class at SUNY Buffalo. The project involved analyzing another composition, or in this case two compositions, and subsequently composing a new work using similar methods. Using Toru Takemitsu's Piano Distance as the impetus, it was broken down into several basic layers of material – including a detailed analysis of all chords, grace notes and phrases units. Basic pitch material was derived from a single pentatonic scale. The second work was Voice. Similar methods of analysis were performed.
A "reconstruction" of sorts was peformed using a different pentatonic scale and a chromatic scale that was missing one scale degree – Bb. Using these new scales a similar number of chords as was found in Takemitsu's Piano Distance were created. The same process was repeated to create single pitches for all of the grace notes and grace note chords. Fourty-eight chords and single pitches for the grace notes were eventually needed to mimic the original. The exclusion of Bb was strictly adhered to for single pitches. Similar intervallic relationships were held to flush out the chords. Registral considerations were not taken into account. These new chords, and grace notes, were "hung" from a similar number of phrase units as found in Piano Distance.Three chromatic clusters built off of the same intervallic range were interspersed for sonic variety. Elements that were retained from Voice not only included extended techniques, but the temporal framework of proportional time.
The idea of resonance and composed silence play a vital role here. In the first measure a toneless G is silently depressed just before the piano activates the partials using a low C in the second bar. The flutist plays into the piano at points creating additional resonance. Characteristics of attack and decay, sudden dynamic changes emulating an attack and rapid decay indicative of the short sustained quality of the piano are likewise of importance throughout both Distant Voices 1 and 2.