Work

Program Notes

Sight Rhythmics (1975) was originally written for five instruments: violin, steel drum, banjo, electric piano and tuba. The work consists of six short movements that sound very much alike, almost identical, especially the first five. By listening carefully to this original ensemble version, one can realize that only the one instrumental part among the five changes from movement to movement, while the other four remain the same, except in the fifth movement where both violin and tuba parts change together. The changes in the overall texture produced by the process are very slight indeed. The five movements seem almost identical, but careful listening will soon reveal their differences. I call this device pseudo-repetition, and it could be placed somewhere between literal repetition and variation. Even the sixth and last movement, Scholion, whose parts are all different from the fifth, still presents a texture that sounds not too different from the other movements. Literal repetition is in itself static, leading to nowhere, while variation, if arranged logically as in classical music, has a directional and developmental dynamic of its own, what we call a good ‘discourse’. Pseudo-repetition is almost as static as literal repetition, but at the same time becomes a vehicle for hidden change and movement. Perhaps the best term to describe this fluid situation, contradictory though they may seem, are the words ‘dynamic stasis’. We could liken the listener’s experience of dynamic stasis to the way we experience our everyday life. Each day seems very similar to the previous one (daily routine), but today is never exactly the same as yesterday.