Something New (1998)
piano four hands

Robert Morris

Program Notes

This relatively brief piano piece for two pianists really was something new for me in 1998. I’d worked out a new way to combine different compositional passages without sacrificing their harmonic integrity and Something New showcases this idea. The primo and secundo parts present independent but related contrapuntal three-voice textures that combine with each other to form coherent but diverse gestures and flows. These three-voice textures are taken from another break-through piece—my Four Voices in Three Voices piano piece of 1983.

Something New has a very noticeable harmonic identity due to the ubiquitous use of a certain hexachord known as 6-14 or [013458] or “Q” (Andy Mead’s name for it). This hexachord has a great number of unique sonic and structural properties in the twelve-tone universe. Oddly enough, hexachord Q has been the main harmonic unit in other pieces that feature a compositional innovation such as Cuts (1983) for large wind orchestra, Allies (1979) for two pianos, Knot Lilacs (2006) for alto saxophone, and Not Lilacs, my first all-out serial piece for trumpet, alto saxophone, piano, and drum set (1973).