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One Day/One Room

One of my favorite television shows is "House, M.D.," and the title for this work is taken from that program. On an episode in the middle of the third season, House treats a patient who has just suffered a traumatic experience and will only open up about it to him. When he asks why she'll only talk to him about it, she tells him it's because they ended up in the same room, and that "...that's all life is really, a series of rooms. And it's who we find ourselves in those rooms with that determines our fate." The idea of each single microscopic event building slowly to a larger picture made me think of something minimalist, and was the creative genesis for this piece.


Musically, the piece is a rather strong departure from several of my most recent compositions. Instead of organizing my piece around small pitch class sets, and designing it using primarily pitch class set theory, I instead focused on using various modes and scales progressing by thirds, and sharing a large number of common tones to create a rich, consonant environment. I selected vibes and harp for their rich timbre distinctions, and wanted an instrument like soprano sax to float over the top of everything.


As the title suggests, I wanted the piece to move along one small moment, or one "cell" at a time. Both the vibes and harp were given several melodic cells that were to be repeated several times until other "events" around them dictated their change. I used a non-traditional notation that spaced these cells out linearly along with the saxophone's melodic line. These cells had self contained tempos that were often (if not always) unrelated,  creating a blur of sound that still had a distinct counterpoint between the voices.

This piece was premiered on February 17th, 2011 for the Jordan College of Fine Arts Composers Orchestra, by Matt Karnstadt (soprano sax), Chris Robinson (vibes), and Lauren Finn (harp).

YouTube Video

Brian Spicklemire,
May 3, 2011, 8:25 PM