Incandescent Silhouette
For any treble instrument.

Recorded by:
Rose Hammer Burt, saxophone

Incandescent Silhouette features two types of canon. The performer creates the first between the upper register's melodic line and the lower register's simplification of that line. The second is the computer processing. This optional electronic part can be applied to other solo unaccompanied monophonic compositions. The computer listens to monophonic input and does the following:

  • Tracks the pitch, but only makes note of every 7th, 5th, and 4th notes.
  • Sends the values derived from tracking the pitch into three separate delay lines.
  • Places the live sound into three separate delay buffers.
  • Retunes the delayed sound based on the delayed tracked pitches.

Ultimately, this creates a harmony out of the melody of the saxophone. The computer imitates the saxophone's rhythms, but plays them without melodic shape on repeating notes derived from the saxophone line.

Canon as Harmony

Observing the works of Boulez and Messaien -- especially ...explosante-fixe..., Burt found very beautiful, modern ways to create harmony derived from a solo line. This concept is important in a number of his compositions, first in the string quartet movement DECLENSION, and in Incandescent Silhouette, Fountain Resonances, and especially Parametric Transmutations.

Creating this kind of texture is simple. Begin with any monophonic line in one instrument. Determine which notes in the line are most important. Are they the highest or lowest notes? Are they accented? Do seem emphasized by meter or rhythm? Use these notes to in the other instruments. Have each instrument or group of instruments play one of these notes. Experiment with playing them in the order they were featured in the melody or modifying their order. Also, try inserting other quicker notes that lead to these emphasized notes.