Mark Applebaum
Composer / Performer / Educator

Theme in Search of Variations III (2007)

Aphasia score sample

Flute (doubling alto & piccolo), trumpet, piano, percussion. For Beta Collide.

Although they are autonomous pieces that may be performed on their own, the three Theme in Search of Variations (two composed since tenure) invite musical responses in the form of other pieces—variations that might be performed in succession on a given concert. Being too long, too rich, and too expressively saturated, these works are probably not ideal “themes.” Instead they might be more accurately thought of as provocation pieces in search of response pieces.

Composed for Beta Collide and as a provocation to my undergraduate composition students, Theme in Search of Variations III consists largely of colorful and frenetic, yet intimate and quiet “sound constellations,” frequently constituted by abundant noise components (as distinguished from focused pitches). The percussionist, in particular, is called upon to navigate an enormous battery of instruments.

Musical events occur in three types of sequences: events that are unpredictable in nature (“what will be next?”) and temporality (“when will it be?”); unpredictable in nature but predictable in time (occurrences at a regular rhythmic interval); and predictable in nature (a repeated sound object) but unpredictable in time. Four interruptions of contrasting material appear, the first featuring solo alto flute, the next a duo of flute and trumpet, the third a trio of flute, trumpet, and piano, and finally a quartet of piccolo, trumpet, piano, and vibraphone. These interruptions share a common harmonic reservoir (a particular palindromic canon) and progress from monophonic to highly polyphonic, contrapuntal settings.

consumption Consumption | Why Consumption?

Download score (PDF- 3MB)

A recording of the work appears on the accompanying CD Sock Monkey.