No 65 Alternatim (2019)
For ensemble & sine pulses
Commissioned by: New European Ensemble, with financial support from the Netherlands Fund for the Performing Arts
First Performance: September 6 2019, Enescu Festival, Radio Hall, Bucharest
Instrumentation: piccolo, clarinet, restrung acoustic guitar, marimba, front-hammer harmonic piano, 2 violins, viola, cello & sine pulses
Duration: ca. 20’
Special Features: piano & acoustic guitar require amplification
Alternatim was written off-the-cuff of Environments, using a variation on the rhythmical structure of Mono as its backbone. Similarly, the work is based on a continuum built around the restrung acoustic guitar and employs some other features of the piece, including the ‘Double Helix’ sine pulse stereo phasing, but enhances on these features by adding whistling melody, complementary rhythms and overtone harmony. The piece uses only natural harmonics on D (up to the 11th partial), which expand in register with each new section. Special parts are reserved for the restrung unison guitar and the front-hammer ‘harmonic’ piano, with the clarinet in an independent role as a ‘link-up’ between the chorus sections which determine the title of the piece.
Alternatim was partly inspired by the beauty of the flute’s whistle tones when skipping through the harmonic series (a practice which is however both too soft and so difficult to control accurately that the part was eventually scored for piccolo) and partly by the imagined sound of singing telegraph wires as the winds blow through them, creating a ‘natural’ harmony without the slightest effort.