Multiplicities and Then Some (2018)
Chamber Orchestra

Robert Morris

Program Notes

The title of this piece conceals a pun, having to do with multiplying and summing numbers, which can represent notes and intervals. The materials for the work are forty-nine of the fifty types of hexachordal harmonies—the omitted harmony is the whole-tone scale, which is too redundant to be useful harmonically. The piece progresses through 49 sections, each a combination of a pair of different hexachords--one linearly and the other vertically--using each hexachord twice. Various combinations of melodic, drone, chordal, heterophonic, and polyphonic textures provide different ways to deploy the pairs of hexachords in a given section.

The character of the piece is indeed multiplicative: fluxy, pulsing, progressive, indicative, invariant, startling by turns. Rather than unity, diversity rules on the surface, but the underlying harmonies prevent the work from evaporating into chaos—not that such a progression would be a bad thing, but reserved for a different piece, yet to be composed.