|Genre Categories||; ;; ; ;|
|Work Title||Fantasia on a Pulse|
|I-Catalogue NumberI-Cat. No.||IMG 15|
|Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp.||2019|
|Dedication||For the Fitzwilliam String Quartet on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary: 2.3.2019|
|Average DurationAvg. Duration||7 minutes|
|Composer Time PeriodComp. Period||Modern|
|Instrumentation||2 violins, viola, cello|
Purcell’s Fantasia Upon One Note has captured the imagination of many subsequent composers, even acting as a specific inspiration and model for pieces by Sally Beamish, Elliot Carter, and Oliver Knussen among others. The most striking feature of Purcell’s work is second-to-lowest part which plays the eponymous ‘one note’ – a middle C – repeated every bar throughout.
Fantasia Upon a Pulse is based on a transcription of the first phrase of Purcell’s Fantasia into the rhythms. The skeleton of the new work comprises the pitches of Purcell’s original harmonies set in a proportional relationship according to the harmonic ratios involved. For instance, the major chord in root position gives the proportion 4:5:6 – a relatively simply proportion. As Purcell’s harmonies become more complex, so too do the new rhythmic relationships.
Fantasia Upon a Pulse grows out of that core structure, redistributing elements, and adding ‘free’ parts based on the same structural principles. You could think of this piece as a kind of extreme close-up: a new look at a well-known object, revealing an uneven surface belied by the more familiar view from a distance.