Black & White (Armstrong, Peter McKenzie)

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Peter M. Armstrong (2013/8/14)

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Peter M. Armstrong

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composer (2013/6/18)

TN black-and-white.jpg
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Peter McKenzie Armstrong

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General Information

Work Title Black & White
Alternative Title a voicing/articulation/pedal study
Composer Armstrong, Peter McKenzie
Movements/Sections 3 short movements
Year/Date of Composition 2013
Dedication George Barth
Average Duration 2 minutes
Piece Style Modern
Instrumentation piano solo


Misc. Comments

Composition Notes

Waiting one night for a train at Boston's North Station (it runs 7 Lines),
I concocted a doodle for the piano's white keys (mod 7), as follows:

1) Group an octave's worth of A-thru-G so that D, the intervallic mirror
    point, is at its center.
2) Starting at D, play these keys sequentially outward: up (D E F G);
    then non-redundantly down (C B A).
3) Repeat, still from D, but skipping -- play every 2nd item, wrapping
    as necessary (D F, C A, E G, B).
4) Now every 3rd item (D G, A, F, B, E, C).
5) Then every 4th; 5th; 6th -- yielding altogether six bars of 7/some-
    thing time, with the last half a once-rotated retrogression of the first.
6) Repeat steps 2-thru-5, but with the starting pattern one white key
    expanded (3rds, not 2nds), covering now nearly two octaves (D F
    A C, B G E).
7) Again those steps, from starting intervals one more expanded --
    so, 4ths (D G C F, A E B).
8) Then from 5ths; 6ths; 7ths; 8vas -- realizing finally what we had
    stopped short of at first in not playing every 7th member.

With a few twists (pattern inversions and telescopings) for surprise's
sake, the doodle became this work's 2nd movement, once a followup
experiment -- for textural/pianistic opposition's sake and realizing for
the black keys instead -- became the 1st.   And in afterthought, a
3rd movement conceived and despaired of reconciling the others.

Performance Notes

Mvmt. 1: Ensure that as each long note sings through its full value,
its busier companions have meanwhile been promptly/fully released.
The metronome setting is intended as the average in an unstable
tempo.

Mvmt. 2: Pedal only to realize slurs where the hands cannot; time
pedal releases to honor all articulations. (The last line stretches this
rule slightly.)   Metronome settings are meant to apply strictly insofar
as possible.   S.P. throughout opens 5 never-played lowest strings
for sympathetic resonance.

Mvmt. 3: Hold the last pedal until no sound remains.

Overall: A staccato dot on the note preceding a rest means, that the
note must stop sounding before the rest's metrical starting point.

- PMA

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