Harmonic Fields


Program Note

Harmonic Fields: Most debates on the meaning of harmony in music will have to acknowledge the great heights reached in the western world during the tonal era. Once we step back a bit, the notions of harmony and togetherness in music gain new meanings, ultimately revealing a much more complex phenomenon. One could see harmony as more than functional tonality, and even more importantly, a lot more than just homophony or a series of chords. In a broad sense, harmony in music has been around for as far back as we can imagine, and in many cultures, has coexisted quite happily with functional tonality.

The discussion on how to achieve a state of harmony through sounds should always begin with the general understanding that musical practice is first and foremost a communal affair. Composers, performers, and conductors explore and enjoy the art of music by seeking a sense of common purpose. In a general sense, they seek harmony – even if only temporarily – as they try to extend this sense of togetherness to their audiences as well.

Harmonic Fields reexamines the meaning of a few perennial concepts, such as concord and consonance. At the foundation of this work there are four types of situations: areas built using modes derived from the first 15 partials of a low “C” fundamental (adjusted to C, D, E, F#, G, A♭, B♭, B), sections focused on the remaining four pitches (D♭, E♭, F, A), textural segments freely written in a heavily chromatic idiom, and brief serial episodes. For much of the piece, all attempts to mimic the “C” partials in their natural order are interrupted by moments of pitch uncertainty. Towards the end however, harmonic coherence is attained when the proper configuration of the “C” overtone series slowly appears in its natural order, thus providing a sense of focus and clarity. The main goal was to work with very simple archetypal concepts like consonance vs. dissonance or pulse vs. non-pulse in order to create moments of departure and return from a state of harmonic unity. -Liviu Marinescu

About Liviu Marinescu

Liviu Marinescu’s works have received recognition in numerous festivals of new music throughout the world, and have been performed by prominent orchestras and ensembles, including the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Czech…