Trees of 28th Street was composed for brass, soloist or ensemble, on Monday, October 22nd, written in my Positional Indication notation.

I went for a walk with the intent of finding patterns to base a piece off of. The first thing I saw was a row of trees. They were mostly the same type of tree, so I decided to catalogue the number of big branches each tree had. After the first 4 trees, I encountered a palm tree. Palm trees don't have branches, and I did not feel like counting fronds would have been useful, so I just wrote, "Palm." The other outlier I ran in to were some small, old olive trees that were a tangle of small, skinny branches. These were notated as, "Olive," giving me the following set:

[2 6 4 2 P 5 O 3 3 P 5 O]

Since I had set out with the intent to compose using Positional Indication, the next step was to figure out a way to relate this set to the three possible permutations of depressing the valves on a trumpet, which is how this whole system started.  The visual nature of the system provides some different ways to make compositional decisions. Palm trees don't have branches, they didn't fit into my system of counting branches. Conveniently, three stacked circles, filled in, resembles the trunk of a palm tree.

That left me with seven other Positions to account for. I set them out in a row and then assigned them random numbers between one and eight, with no repeats. The number of branches on a tree would then correspond to the Position dictated by the number. This still left me with the issue of the Olive variable. A little further down the street was a row of larger, neater olive trees. I used the big branch count from the six of those to create a set that would be inserted every time the Olive variable occurred, which ended up being [4 2 3 2 3 4]. Now I had a system that would allow me to assign Positions to a set I generated by walking down the street with a pen and journal.

The first movement I did a straightforward transcription. I assigned the numbers and then notated the music as the system indicated. For the second  movement I first assigned a new set of random numbers to the Positions, then made two changes to my system; Palm variables would act as 1st endings, with the piece continuing beyond them as a 2nd ending, and the Olive visual motif would remain static throughout the piece instead of changing with each new set. The repeating of elements allowed the 2nd movement to be a different length than the first. For the 3rd movement I rolled a new set of numbers, went back to the straightforward interpretation, and kept the static Olive motif. I tried to have some influence and make sure the number sets assigned were at least somewhat different, but I forgot to take into account the fact that the Olive motif was static, so the 3rd movement ended up being a close copy of the 1st, with only two Positions swapped.

Trees of 28th Street