COMPOSER’S NOTES for MCSD (MCSD = "Multi-Colored Star Drops"), A Three-voice New-age Fugue
for Violin, Viola, and Cello
(composed 1992-1994, translated to “standard rhythmic notation” 1999.)

This piece was conceived and started in 1992 in response to acute exposure to electronic gizmos (digital synthesizers- thanks go out to David Borden for kindly allowing me to sit in on some his his electronic music classes and patiently explaining how to use these "beasts"!) but it wasn't ontil 2001 that I was finally able to complete the task of translating it into a form that musicians could at least figure out, if not sightread. The problem was the appearance in this piece of "incomplete triplet groups" - for instance the third triplet of the group might become the downbeat of the next measure. This leads to time signitures like 5/12, 19/24, or 17/48. Since I might have been sued for causing cardiac arrest in any string players who dared to learn my piece, I had to wait until David Bracket, my composition teacher at SUNY Binghamton, showed me how I might notate it, using an example by Elliot Carter....

So as I took up the task of translating -19/48ths became 19/32nds, 7/8 became 21/16ths, quarter-triplets became quarter notss, and sixteenth notes became DOTTED sixteenth notes, etc. Then incomplete triplet groups can be displayed as just an odd combination of un-dotted notes.

I went through this trouble because this piece is actually rather special to me. It was one of those "combination things" where different elements fit together better than they have any business fitting together.... It has alot of life in it, and I hope that someday some group of string players might discover that life. I have posted on this page a recording of the piece realized on a cheezy-sounding (for strings, at least) Korg synthesizer, as well as an "enhanced version" using some cool sounds I came up with an the Cornell synths.

If anyone would like separate parts just send me e-mail, and I will send the printed parts and score. A few bucks for postage and printing would of course be greatly appreciated!...

In this piece the "basic beat switches between dotted notes and un-dotted notes. In performance, the un-dotted notes should be thought of as "triplets"; but sometimes the groove will jump out of an incomplete triplet group, giving kind of a feeling of impatience-- it turns these are surprisingly natural to execute. This is no doubt because rhythms of this type appear all the time in speech.

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Dave Streater

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