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Duration: six minutes
Instrumentation: four harps
CANON ON AN OSTINATO is built upon a simple compositional device in which the piece grows from a single repeated note into full, rolling glissandi, and back again. Each player in the quartet announces the single beginning pitch, which then continues cycling through the ensemble. A theme starts to form as the players begin adding more and more material. This theme is then played in canon, whose parts are constantly rotating throughout the quartet. As the canon grows in complexity, it falls into a mess of glissandi, and climbs back out again as the process, more-or-less, reverses itself.
Although it would be dangerous to suggest that harps are only capable of performing glissandi (as so many of us composers often treat them), they are none-the-less the ideal instruments to perform the task. In writing this piece, I hoped to create something uniquely suited to the harp, and believe I have done so. As far as I am concerned, this music could not exist in any other medium.