flute solo

Robert Morris

Program Notes

My earlier solo flute piece of 1976 Raudra depicts the affect of anger and rage. When deciding to compose a new flute solo, one that would complement Raudra, the word "seraphim" kept coming into my mind even before I had a clear idea of how the piece would go. As I composed, the image of the mysterious seraphim as described in Isaiah 6 provided an ideal for the spirit of the piece. "Each had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."

The piece is based on a 55-note string of pitches which contains linearizations all of the fifty six-note types of harmonies available in twelve-tone equal temperament. Yet it is incomplete in another sense: the string uses only eleven of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. The composition's character of wholes within fragments and fragments amid wholes is both determined and connoted by the string's structure, and, to me at least, suggests the irreality of Isaiah's vision.