Date of Degree
MA (Master of Arts)
David K. Gompper
The string quintet The Seven Seas attempts to explore the relationship between narrative and abstract perceptions. Challenging the axiom that our mind interprets all in-coming information in narrative terms, the piece attempts to determine to what extent such a condition persists when taken towards its opposite - a non narrative perception.
Contrary to what the title suggests, the quintet does not depict physical bodies of water; rather, its main material employs seven pitch-classes C distributed over the range of seven octaves. Thus, the main idea of the piece is primarily linked to the element of register, examining each note as an individual entity from different timbral and spacial angles.
Since the main idea of the piece consists of one note in registral disposition, the harmony plays a subordinate role in it and fulfills two functions: (I) articulating sectional divisions and (II) as a means of textural coloring. In terms of counterpoint, all material revolves around pitch class C, widening the pitch-class' territory by slightly deviating from it by half steps to create the illusion of variation.
To reinforce its textural complexity, the piece heavily draws on rhythm. In terms of rhythm, the complexity was achieved by either (I) construction or deconstruction of rhythmical patterns or (II) by building polyrhythmic structures.
Copyright 2010 Stas Omelchenko
Omelchenko, Stas. "The seven seas." Master's thesis, University of Iowa, 2010.