Fantasia on a Pulse (Gotham, Mark)

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MarkGotham (2019/3/4)

Publisher. Info. Mark Gotham
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General Information

Work Title Fantasia on a Pulse
Alternative. Title
Composer Gotham, Mark
I-Catalogue NumberI-Cat. No. IMG 15
Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp. 2019
First Performance. 2019/03/02
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
Piece Style Modern
Instrumentation 2 violins, viola, cello

Misc. Comments

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.