American Mavericks

fifty-four notes

This piece is inspired by the concept of chance, used by John Cage. To compose this piece, I wrote out on squares of paper an equal number of notes, A through G. I then wrote out the same number of acccidentals (sharps, flats, and naturals), and also two rests. I placed the note names in one box, the accidentals in another box, and then drew them out randomly, so that each note was assigned an accidental. In the performance notes, I state: “This piece may be performed by any instrument. There are no instructions regarding the octave the pitch is to be played in, articulation, or length of note. Where notes are omitted (rests), the performer may rest, continue to the next note right away, or do something (anything) else at these moments. Interpretation completely lies with the individual performer.” I then performed the piece on cello.

In composing and performing this piece, I learned that there are truly endless possibilities when performing this type of chance-based piece, where interpretation is left up to the performer. This kind of composition truly challenges the performer to reach into his or herself and explore creativity within. I also learned that it is very exciting to be the actual composer of a piece of music (however simple it may be). I spend so much time learning the music of other composers, that it was a refreshing experience to compose my own work.