Transit: Flux

by Thomas, Paul

Abstract (Summary)
Transit: Flux is a nine-minute composition for symphony orchestra, whose title refers to motion and the idea of passing sound from right to left and front to back. The perception of sonic motion is created through and around the orchestra by using numerous instruments to play large gestures, dovetailing the instruments to create a single coherent event. To achieve this effect, some of the orchestra members were relocated. The brass section was evenly split and paired with a set of timpani on the left and right sides of the stage behind the string section. The contrabasses were placed upstage of the percussion. Transit: Flux is cast in a single movement and consists of four interior sections. It begins with a declamatory brass introduction that establishes the main idea of movement and panning. A melodic section devoted to the woodwinds with light string accompaniment follows the introduction. The third and largest section is sparked by the low brass playing doppler effect gestures from right to left and vice versa, creating the perception of a spinning wheel. The gestures gradually quicken until the “spinning” is nothing but a high-pitched hum or whirling sound in the strings, singing tube, and vibraphone. The final section of the piece begins when the high-pitched hum eventually snaps, sending down a cascade of chaotic rhythmic pandemonium. This gives rise to passages of controlled aleatory with an individual cell’s pitch content derived from the melodic material of the second section. The piece ends as the texture slowly dissipates away to nothing. The harmonic and melodic material was derived from intuitively designed twelve-tone sets, each containing different groups of intervals and levels of dissonance. These sets were inspired by Witold Lutoslawski’s use of pitch in pieces such as Jeux Venitiens and Livre. Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gruppen, Jacob Druckman’s Windows, and Gyorgy Ligeti’s Lontano were also influential in the composition of this piece.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:symphony orchestra


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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