For 12 cellos, flute, clarinet and trombone


for the Flexible Orchestra


In jargon, each cello is retuned in a different way (in a just intonation related closely to the harmonic series on the low C), and only natural harmonics (up to the 5th are used). In that way, a huge gamut of possible chords (from 1 note to 24, since double stops are used) are possible, in an extended just intonation.


The structure of the piece is a simple one, the harmonic "complexity" (perhaps, "consonance") moves from some notion of maximal simplicity to maximal complexity over the course of the approximately 10 minute piece. A similar kind of process happens in rhythm. The wind parts are a kind of obligato, and are also tuned to the harmonic series.


jargon is the latest in a series of my works which use some simple mathematical and cognitive notions of harmonic complexity, and by far the most developed in terms of notation and compositional idea. The piece was written by computer (in Java/JMSL), using my own software.


Thanks to Nick Didkovsky, Michael Finkel, Michael Byron and Michael Winter for help with the score, and to Daniel Goode for making possible.


Larry Polansky