Pentecost

from by Scott Blasco

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Scott Blasco: PENTECOST (2013)

PROGRAM NOTE:

Over the last several years, I have worked to simplify my music as much as possible--at first from a desire to avoid cluttering it up with "extra notes," and increasingly out of an impulse to get down to the most basic, essential idea I can. PENTECOST is one manifestation of that drive. Its genesis lies in the contemplation of a handmade tapestry I own, a deep blue field divided by two interlocking grids of white lines. My first quick sketches--wavering pencil on blank paper--tried to take in too much; but, as I pared it down, I came to a band of interweaving lines moving across the page, individual and yet one gesture. The title Pentecost refers to both the event and the feast in Christian tradition: the descent of tongues of flame onto the heads of a waiting, wondering band of disciples. The weaving lines of my sketches circle and descend, a moment suspended in time, imagined in sound.

(short version)
PENTECOST is one manifestation of a recent drive to simplify my music as much as possible. It began in the contemplation of a tapestry I own, a deep blue field intersected by white lines. My first sketches--wavering pencil on blank paper--tried to take in too much; but, as I pared it down, I came to a band of interweaving lines flowing across the page, individual yet one. Pentecost: tongues of holy flame descending onto the heads of waiting, wondering disciples. The weaving lines of my sketches circle and descend, a moment suspended in time, imagined in sound.

Additional notes:

I'm not sure there's much to say of this that I haven't in the notes or in emails already. It's made of a bunch of sine tones in Max, which all descend at different rates from a unified initial pitch while simultaneously rotating around the space three times (each rotation shorter than the previous). For the longer version there are eight rotations.

Number symbolism is always present in my process, so the three rotations is an obvious trinitarian reference. The eight is made differently: there are five rotations of successively shorter durations that span the whole piece, but that whole sound field is simultaneously rotated three times of equal durations. Five is a number symbolic of Christ, three of the Trinity, and eight of heaven--Christ sends the Spirit at Pentecost, the Spirit descends from Heaven at Pentecost... layers.

Similarly, the descending tones are made up of nine strands (3*3), each of which also has a spectrum of nine partials that is only heard, quietly, in the final quarter or so of the piece. There is additionally a very quiet bass tone than slowly rises beneath the descending nine strands that (I hope/think) subtly accentuates the descent.

credits

from Pentecost, released August 31, 2018

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