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Retroactive Camouflage
for solo piccolo

Work no. 191
2021

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    This is one of the satellite pieces of Many Pink Butterflies, derived from that work's Solo VI. Each solo in MPB is about a minute long, and explores a single compositional technique. A satellite piece based on a solo develops that technique further. In this case, the technique was retrograde statements: the same melodies played forwards and backwards, sometimes one after another, other times after an intermission, or only using a fragment of the original for its retrograde statement. I was thinking of camouflage in nature, animals hiding in plain sight by mimicking their surroundings. That's what I wanted to happen in the piece, and that's how it's structured: there is a theme and three variations, each using a different way of obscuring the theme, until, at the very end of the piece, it's almost completely undetectable.

    I kept hearing this as both a solo piccolo and a solo piano piece, so I made a version for piano, which takes the camouflaging process two steps further: first with the sustain pedal creating clouds of sound around the core melody, and then with chance operations in the last variation, which is different in the piano version. I was so happy to finally make a pendant to Waves, after some 13 years! And like that early work, Retrograde Camouflage is very good at deceiving the listener about its true nature.


    Retroactive Camouflage – PDF score   Two Studies for an Algorithm – PDF score


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