Gleeful Variants

for piano

premiered November 2004
Genevieve Lee, piano
Bridges Hall, Claremont, CA

Glee: n 1: great merriment 2: malicious satisfaction 3: Partial email
address for Genevieve Lee, the dedicatee of Gleeful Variants.

 As this piece came to life, I found myself drawn to one of the
simplest of musical elements: the major triad. That is of course the
harmonic basis for much of the world’s music, and appears across many
cultures and many centuries.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, many composers have looked for
original harmonic entities other than the centuries-old triadic
construct; among the many approaches tried have been unexpected
combinations of those very triads in non-tonal contexts. Some
combinations are quite dissonant, some juxtapositions are quite
jarring. Nevertheless, the sense of any harmonic construct is
influenced by the prominent presence of triadic elements, which lend a
particular kind of stability, however contradictory, to whatever music
it participates in.

All of the notes in Gleeful Variants are derived from major triads,
generally in an easily heard manner. Magical moments in certain pieces
of Stravinsky and Messiaen came to mind as work on the piece
progressed. Merriment, satisfaction and thoughts of Genevieve Lee’s
artistry, if not her email address, are all part of the mix.

available on Albany:

score excerpt