#NewTuneThursday: Counterpoint Invariable

Sarah Wallin Huff

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

I am fascinated by the lessons the study of counterpoint can teach us! Combining this love for the rules of counterpoint with my nature to set up systems of patterns and let them run (to see what happens…) I embarked on a creative experiment using three violins…

Completed in 2011 for the Rosé Violin Trio of Los Angeles, this complex and experimental work consists of three movements:

I. Intervallic Structure (Andante con moto)
II. Tone and Color (Meno mosso)
III. Urban Rhythm (Allegro ma non troppo)

Based upon a strict and unvarying formula of patterns that are passed equally between the three violin parts, all three movements utilize this same precise structure of “A, B, C, and Ostinato” phrases, which were developed and plotted out meticulously by Wallin Huff prior to the actual composition of any one note. Each movement, however, while still based upon the same formulaic set of patterns, is then varied by the compositional material of the four phrases themselves. The phrases’ material is each based upon very different scalar patterns, depending on the particular movement’s character: Intervallic Structure is an exploration of pitting certain intervals against each other; Tone and Color is a wash of purely tonal and consonant patterns; Urban Rhythm strictly focuses on the pitting of rhythmic patterns of two’s versus three’s against one another in a “sterile” pentatonic tonal environment.

Counterpoint Invariable is a successful thought-experiment, turned to driving and evocative emotional artwork, highlighting Wallin Huff’s ongoing fascination with the logic of mechanical structure giving way to outward beauty. It is a true, fulfilling reward to perform and explore this work in its entirety.

This work was beautifully recorded by Parma and released on the Navona Records album, “Soul of the Machine”Parma even recommended it to the Grammys!

Enjoy the recording of these three movements below…

“Counterpoint Invariable” can be performed by an advanced ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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