Archive for April, 2016

Fantasy in D

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

A fantasy is a musical composition with a free form and often an improvisatory style. Early in the 16th-century fantasias consisted of short sections based on one or more musical motives. “Fantasy in D” makes use of improvisation by the orchestra. Performers receive collections of notes or instructions and are told to improvise using them for certain period of time.

Fantasy in D

Pages from the score

Not all sections are improvised; some sections are a mix of fully notated and improvisation.  There are a couple of repeating motives, but the most prominent would be the repeated 3 notes which are heard at the climax. There are 2 top level sections, the climax of the piece is the start of the second section. The second section is the inverse of the first (b+a instead of a+b).

Score Draft Notes

Score Draft laying out the Golden Ratio

Then each of these top two sections are broken down until there are 64 total sections.  The sections break into various levels (2-4-8-16-32), then depending on the level they trigger different events, texture or chord changes, instruments used, etc. How long each section last is based on the “Golden ratio“, φ (phi) or 1.6180339887498948482… The”Golden ratio” appears in some patterns in nature, including the spiral arrangement of leaves and other plant parts. The tonal center of the piece is in D, though it is more modal then in the key of D. It travels though D, A, B, G, A, B, G, D, sometimes using major modes but mostly minor, so it is really in D…(ish).

SFCCO performs Fantasy in D


The over all feeling of the piece might be a bit somber or melancholy. Various life events, the passing of my father and my mother’s struggle with pancreatic cancer, during the writing of the work affected the mood of the piece. On May 21st, 2016, the SFCCO premièred this composition.

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