No. 14: Guitar Quartet Scrolling Notation

On October 28, 2020 by Prester John

“Fare Tredici: A Blessing For Korzybski’s Map (From Order To Chaos And Back)” 

by Shawn Persinger is Prester John

Excerpt from the composition and performance notes in the Halloween Baptizm portfolio book.

• • •

“Fare Tredici” is an overture in reverse (there are varying definitions of “overture” – I am using it in the way that is associated with Romantic-era operas [such as Bizet’s Carmen], as a piece of music, containing contrasting sections, that is played at the beginning of an opera or oratorio, featuring the main musical themes of the work) – literally and figuratively:

• This overture is at the end of Halloween Baptizm, not the beginning.

• Less apparent is the fact that each section of the overture is based on a theme from pieces “One…” through “Midnight”, running in reverse order of their original appearance; thus section A12 is based on “Midnight”, section B11 is based on “Eleven…”, etc.

• And considerably less noticeable, I took what I perceived as the main theme of each piece (or my favorite section) and played them backwards, but – and this is where the “figuratively” unfolds – backwards was merely a starting point. Not all themes worked perfectly backwards, so pitches, rhythms, arrangements, etc. were modified with artistic license. Additionally, parts were swapped: If in the original piece the 6-string played the melody and the bass played a bassline, then in the overture they traded roles.

Thanks to the fact that “One…” is a musical palindrome [more on that in the book], “Fare Tredici”, and Halloween Baptizm as a whole, ends with the same theme that began the piece (though slightly faster).

As this piece references multiple pieces, it is also played in multiple keys and tempos. The key changes were dictated by the most basic of harmonic principles, the circle of fifths. This is particularly ironic in my case because whenever I hear someone bring up the circle of fifths I think, “This person has no idea what they’re talking about. The circle of fifths is useless, except in certain, rare situations.” This is one of those situations. Even so, I feel the topic of the circle of fifths is so needlessly confusing that I have no desire to discuss it further.

Changes in tempo were a bit problematic; in the end I reduced the number of tempos to five by averaging (more or less) the original tempos. This made the flow of the pieces (not to mention the recording) much smoother.

In addition to the Romantic-era overture form, “Fare Tredici” was also inspired by John Zorn’s “Cat O’ Nine Tails”, which is a frenetic, ever-changing, cartoon-music- inspired piece that Zorn composed for the Kronos Quartet. It wasn’t so much the music of “Cat O’ Nine Tails” that inspired me as it was the concept, the musical jump-cuts, that reassured me that the seemingly random and peripatetic nature of “Fare Tredici” would work.

Fare Tredici can be translated as “To Do 13”, which in Italian means “To hit the Jackpot”, or “To Have Big Luck”. I was delighted when I learned of this saying, as it seemed tailor-made for Halloween Baptizm.

On the other hand, the subtitle, “Korzybski’s Map (From Order To Chaos And Back)” is based on Alfred Korzybski’s maxim, “The map is not the territory.” Korzybski (1879 – 1950) posited that no one can obtain direct access to reality, because reality is limited by both the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed.

Korzybski’s map is not the territory. My map is from order to chaos and back. (Or is it from chaos to order and back?) My map is also not the territory. Fare Tredici!

Comments are closed.