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Solkattu

  • Gregory Beyer (b.1973)
  • Quintet
  • 2014

For “Berimbau Quintet no. 1” it seemed natural to meditate on the number five and to consider how I might weave together a piece revolving entirely around a play of numbers. Inspired by the way five is made manifest in southern Indian rhythmic “solkattu”, I set about a creating a pleasing way to systematically string together every 3+2 and 2+3 binary combination. The result is:

3+2, 3+2
3+2, 2+3
2+3, 3+2
2+3, 2+3

This numeric DNA can be found throughout many parts of the work, as I intended it to be the touchstone and unifying factor of the composition. The harmonic progression midway through the piece is a further exploration of harmonic possibilities for the “meta-harp” that is a berimbau ensemble, first explored in my Berimbau Trio no. 1. Other influences in the piece are Bartók (accel/decel gesture in mm. 120-124, as well as all of the odd meter passage work) and, of course, Steve Reich (mm. 125-132), whose work, Electric Counterpoint, was the point of origin for nearly everything I do with the berimbau. – Gregory Beyer

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