In Progress – Resonant Combinations

New Shorts Composer Robert Ashley writes:

Resonant Combinations is a series of sixteen sounds made at the piano. The sounds come from a piano note being struck while five other piano keys are silently depressed. This technique gives the struck note a subtle harmonic aura. Each sound ends when it is no longer heard.

Resonant Combinations is one of a group of “sound-sketches” composed for the opera (in progress), Quicksand. It has been used in two earlier operas when a character is introduced, as in Quicksand, who appears to be working for or under the control of some unknown agency — in other words, willingly or unwillingly, an “agent”, or a spy.

The sixteen sound combinations are four groups of four successive harmonies, each group of harmonies made from one of the four modes (scales) that uses no interval larger than a whole-step. The transition from one harmony to the next can be accomplished using only the rules of voice-leading and without reference to root movement or root position.