No-Self Is True-Self (2014)
(for Wind Ensemble – Piccolo, Flute, Oboe, English Horn, Bassoon, Contrabasson, E-flat Clarinet, 2 B-flat Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, Soprano Sax, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Baritone Sax, 2 B-flat Trumpets, 2 Horns, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Tuba, 4 Percussionists)
Approximate duration = 14 minutes
MIDI RECORDING. This piece has yet to be performed.
As I was composing this piece for mezzo soprano and 8 instruments, I realized that this could also be arranged for a large wind ensemble. After completing the chamber vocal version, I went to work transferring it to a larger ensemble. The vocal melody in the original is transferred to the wind instruments, but utilizing their much wider range.
Set to a poem by 4th century Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu, and inspired by the Tao Te Ching, No-Self Is True-Self explores the meaning of selflessness through timelessness. The skeleton of the piece was created from a set of 7 chords which repeat 3 times. The duration of these chords, as well as the triplet-8th note-quarter note motif, are determined by strict durational serialism. The sense of randomness and unpredictability that results contributes to the sense of no-time, or the awareness of time versus no-time. Another theme of the piece is the notion of major versus minor. Sometimes the chords sound major, minor, or both simultaneously. The melodic lines were written last to float around the harmonies created by the instruments, sometimes anticipating a new chord, and sometimes carrying over a common note between two chords as the chords change. When the last melody was written to end the piece, that became the basis for the opening fanfare introduction.