Date of Degree
MA (Master of Arts)
First Committee Member
Cohen Elias, Sivan
“Eclipses” orchestrates the movements of human beings as celestial bodies—as wandering beings that emit waves, cycle in orbit, and create shadows. Subtle microtonal movements, or retunings of the same pitch, tell the story of gradual planetary motion leading to the drama of the eclipse. In the dimmed light of a solar eclipse, even the most familiar surroundings seem unfamiliar and strange.
The harmonic material of “Eclipses” was composed using the Rainbow Harmony Matrix, a MaxMSP-based mouse and keyboard interface designed for real-time interaction with a 2D colorized pitch space defined by Just Intonation ratios. The most difficult coding in this patch was completed thanks to the generous help of Jean-François Charles. The spatialization and color-coding of Just Intonation pitches provided by the Rainbow Harmony Matrix proved invaluable to organizing harmonic and melodic material. Elements of rhythm, timbre, and articulation were largely left to the ear’s intuition.
“Penumbra” magnifies the shadow cast when one celestial body partially obscures the light from another. Moments from “Eclipses” are revisited through a telescopic lens, such that the small whole number relations hiding in the harmonies are magnified, into the field of rhythm. Small gestures orbit each other in wandering motion, building a web of cause and effect.
The harmonic material from “Penumbra” is extracted from two chords occurring in measures 41-43 of “Eclipses.” The small whole number frequency ratios governing the cross-relations of these two chords are magnified and modified to create polyrhythms that cycle over several minutes.
eclipse, intonation, microtonal, penumbra, quartet, string
viii, 20 pages
Includes bibliographical references (page 20).
Copyright © 2019 Day McMaster Beyer
Beyer, Day McMaster. "Eclipses and penumbra." MA (Master of Arts) thesis, University of Iowa, 2019.