Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Haunted" and Polytonality

Polytonality in music composition is one of the most exciting advances in art over the last 150 years (more or less in regard to time frame, the debate rages on amongst musicologists). From Wagner's arguably unintentional forays in his last works to the employment in Richard Strauss' "Elektra", culminating in the rampant experimentation in early 20th century art music, polytonality remains a realm fecund with possibilities.

Though I've experimented in using this device throughout my musical career (shades appear in "Errandia" and tiny, Lizstian bits in "Palace Guard"). However, Lyraka Volume 2 is where my application becomes more intensive (see "Gnashing" below, as well as the short example here). The harmonic layers get crashing and chaotic with Lilliput's soliloquy in "Fidei Defensor" due to her rebellious, adolescent angst; at another point they rally in creepily comforting fashion during Semmonet's most obviously self-fooling rants.

In this next musical example, taken from the aria "Haunted" from the upcoming Lyraka Volume 2, please note both the discordant sound and its highly animated movement in the instrumental ensemble. What I mean by animated is that most other composers since Bartok use dissonant layers as more of a backround padding to their works, relying on low volume and extended chords. Here the layers act more in a writhing, actively involved way; even the cantabile-ish English Horn and Flute seem ever in danger being overtaken by the snakes of harmonic discord. This piece required just as much strenuous mixing as thoughtful composition, due to the aforementioned, mobilized layers and heavy instrumentation. By dint, the results are peculiarly cinematic in and of themselves.

Donations toward the final production, engineering, and release of Lyraka Volume 2 can be made by Pay Pal to: and thanks for all the amazing belief our patrons have shown over the years!

Andy and Jasmine