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Retroactive Camouflage
for solo piccolo

Work no. 191


    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.

    The four canons that follow in the playlist above are the smallest Many Pink Butterflies satellites. They don't have a separate catalogue number. Each treats a small part of Retroactive Camouflage to canonic imitation. It's very obvious in the second one, very convoluted in numbers one and three, and completely over the top in the fourth one, which is unplayable except if programmed into an electronic instrument.

    Retroactive Camouflage – PDF score   Retroactive Camouflage – PDF score

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