Projections Split. A Composition for Large Orchestra.

PROJECTIONS-SPLIT, op.15: a composition for large orchestra (2003).

Duration: 15 minutes.

Orchestration: 3-2(+1)-2(+1)-2(+1)-6-4-4-2-P(5)-1ph-Strings.

Projections Split: Program Notes

Projections Split is the first composition where my research done on the Ancient Greek/Byzantine musical systems has been applied on such a large scale!

The research I will be discussing has started at the University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios. The reason for using the Byzantine system is that, according to documented sources, it has retained the tuning system of the Ancient Greek music while adding a complex level of sophistication to it.

The Ancient Greek/Byzantine musical system is based not on modes or scales, but rather on systems whose "magnitude" (meaning here "span") can start with just two small intervals and expand to two-and-a-half octaves (but, theoretically at least, "ad infinitum"). What makes this sound wold so unique, to me at least, is the prevalence of the tetrachord. A tetrachord is defined here as a closed system of four frequencies whose outer tones (estotes) are always fixed and form the interval of a perfect fourth: the inner frequencies on the other hand (lichanoi) are movable and follow complicated yet distinct rules.

Some important facts:

1. quarter tones are not only permissible but quite the norm in this system!

2. according to recent research, the perfect fourth was the span within which the Ancient Greek language moved. Maybe that is the main reason for the restricted use of music in the tragedy plays, as the language itself provided the necessary music!

3. the perfect fourth is the strongest interval in the folk music of several nations: therefore, "fixing" a perfect fourth is a rather natural process for the musician who is required to perform a composition based on such a system.

Another fascinating feature of this system is the fact that the tetrachords can be placed in two different ways: conjunctive (by synaphe, or common tone) or disjunctive (by inserting a major tone in-between, specifically the "tone" of the 9:8 Pythagorean ratio). In the second case, we have the interval of the octave as we know it in Western music. In the first case though, we encounter the same tetrachord only after 12 different ones! Given the variety of the "inner" structure of the tetrachords (within the movable lichanoi) and the diversity in placing them (conjunctive/disjunctive) one can quickly understand the amazing number of "possibilities" in a very well structured system!