Just Constellations

New Amsterdam Records, 2020

Just Constellations was completed in 2016 and recorded in the ultra-reverberant acoustics of the TANK Center for Sonic Arts in Rangely, Colorado in 2017. The work is comprised of four interconnected constellations of justly tuned chords and modes. The first three of these are related to harmonic regions of La Monte Young’s epic The Well-Tuned Piano.


“The Magic Constellation” presents three variations of “The Theme of The Magic Chord,” which is one of the simplest, but most profound themes from The Well-Tuned Piano. “The Acoustic Constellation” is based on the fourth octave of the harmonic series and uses the “acoustic” mode with the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th partials (I replace the 13th partial with the 27th partial transposed down an octave).


Nom-tom syllables are used throughout the work. Although the sounds of this ancient musical language are derived from mantras, they have no literal meaning. Nom-tom has been used by Indian classical vocalists for centuries to create beautiful vocal timbres and rhythmic accentuations. In “The Magic Constellation,” sargam syllables, or the Indian equivalent to solfege, are also used.

- Michael Harrison

Just Constellations was commissioned by Roomful of Teeth and supported by fellowships from Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

TRACKS
I. The Opening Constellation: Summer
II. The Romantic Constellation: Autumn
III. The Magic Constellation: Winter (based on a theme by La Monte Young)
IV. The Acoustic Constellation: Spring

© 2020 by Michael Harrison