envelopes for orchestra (2006)




envelopes for orchestra - performed by the uc berkeley orchestra, david milnes conducting

Throughout the piece there are essentially two sound-objects which define the central “thematic” materials (see pages 1-2 of the score). I think of these sound-objects as a kind of “macro-envelope,” made up of attack, sustain, decay and release elements which are carefully constructed through superimposing layers of instrumental combinations. As a focus for this piece I attempted to confuse the ear as much as possible by grafting the attack of several instruments with the sustain of another group (the decay of another, etc.); it’s the classic trick of hiding the entrance of a new instrument taken a step further; here each layer has a fore-, middle- and back-ground. The combined attack of each event is combined with complimentary orchestral shadings to enhance the depth and shape of the sound-object, and hopefully to make instrument identifying difficult. I imagine these sound-objects as fluid, hovering and wobbling, unstable but cohesive, like a ball of mercury floating in space.

In the score, arrow markings have been included along the top stave, to illustrate the macro-rhythmic design of sound-object events. Though absorbed into the fluctuations of the material, this scaffolding creates an almost imperceptible logic to the sound’s expansion and contraction.

The grid illustration to the right, is the overall event plan that was used in composing. Horizontal numbers 1-15 refer to beats per page, and 1-30 are the pages. There are an average of three events per page, and as a counterbalance, beats 5, 13 and 15 are “non-event” beats, a reverse image of the piece’s overall density.

The form of the piece can be understood as following an A a A' a' design, the central division occurring at the halfway point. Pages 1-13 form the complete section A; 14 - 15 parallel pages 6-7 (a); 16-28 parallel 1-13 (A'); and concluding pages 29-30 parallel pages 1-2 (a'). These divisions are marked by a double bar in the score.

Against this repeating 15 beat pattern, is a 15 + 1/3 repeating pattern. Like a little pop/tick on an old record, this slightly off pattern is illustrated by a low tuba tongue slap quickly followed by a staccato high G# in the harp.

rama gottfried - envelopes for orchestra - event grid



instrumentation: 2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bsn, 2 hrn, 2 trp, 2 trb, tuba, 3 perc, pno, hrp, solo 2 vln, vla, vc, db & strings
duration: ca. 6'
download score: enevelopes.pdf.zip [13.22 MB] / envelopes.pdf [30.83 MB]