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Mirror Walk
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This is a piece with musical material from the Partch Tonality Diamond. The primary scale is based on the overtone series starting on A#, expressed in ratios as 8:8, 9:8, 10:8, 11:8, 14:8, 16:8.
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Prent Rodgers


Sat Nov 22, 2003
Classical : Contemporary
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Charts position
» highest in charts:   # 176   (43,079 songs currently listed in Classical)
» highest in sub-genre:   # 44   (9,687 songs currently listed in Classical > Contemporary)
About the song
In note names, they are A#, C, D, E-, F, G++. The piece modulates to chords chosen from the undertone series of C: A#, Ab, G--, F, D++, and C, or expressed as ratios, with A# as 1:1 they are 9:9, 9:10, 9:11, 9:12, 9:14, 9:16, 9:18. At any one time, only the overtones of one undertone are played. After an opening chord progression of four otonalities on the utonality (overtones on A#, Ab, G--, F or 9:9, 9:10, 9:11, 9:12), the cello plays a melody in A# otonality, with modulations to the utonalities after a few measures. This is the basic structure of the song: melody moving from one otonality to another, following the progression of the utonality. This is separated by occasional slow chord progressions through the utonality progression. I voice the chords so that the progression sounds like it is rising, as the fundamental of the chord descends. This contrary motion is used throughout the song, with frequent upward or downward glissandi from one set of overtone triads to another, sometimes simultaneously. A favorite glisando takes an 8:10:12 triad down to a 7:9:11, or back up. At about 4:50 into the piece, there is a slow progression through the overtones of the undertone series, using a set of glissandi for each of the notes in the scale.
Credits: Harry Partch, Philip Glass, Sangkar Agung, Omar y Los Bandeleros


The instruments include cello, violins, double bass, tuba, contrabassoon, oboe, flutes, finger piano, harp, vibraphone, french horn and many different trombones. All are subject to up and down sampling to create tiny versions of the instruments. A tenor trombone, downsampled by a few notes and then taken up an octave sounds like a sopranino trumpet. All instruments can glissando, including the harp, finger piano, oboe, flute, and cello.

There is a certain amount of indeterminancy, but not as much as some of my other music. In this piece, each instrument can sometimes choose from many different alternative measures at any one time. At other times, they are moew constrained. I did this to ensure that the parts that sounded best before I imposed constraints made it into the finished product. The cello melody at the beginning was specified explicitly. The only choices the cellist had was whether to glissando or slur some passages. The trombone, oboe, and finger piano accompaniaments had many more choices, but still constrained to a short list. Later in the song they could chose from many more alternatives. Some interesting parts showed up just because it was their time to be heard. I especially like the oom-pah-pah part at 2:45, following some trombone glissandi. I like to think of it as an improvisation, subject to control.
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