Cantus Curatio IV (Healing Melody No.4)

Cantus Curatio IV (2009) for Trombone is written for Tony Baker who is considered one of the finest trombonists of his generation (faculty, University of North Texas).This work is dedicated to victims who are diagnosed with breast cancer.The composition is an exploration of aleatoric music with the intention of maintaining control of the pitch materials.This approach to aleatory is somewhat closer to Witold Lutoslawski’s mature period “limited aleatorism” and Alfred Schnittke’s extension of jazz improvisation than to the chance works by John Cage, Earle Brown, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.There is no influence of the philosophy of Cage’s music-that is, that any material could be placed into any structure.The music is notated exactly; the random element implied by the term aleatory is carefully directed by the composer, who controls the architecture of the musical elements-rhythm and pitch materials-precisely within each section.However, the choice of sections as well as the sequencing and repetition of sections is given to the performer.The composer also includes an extended improvisatory section as an optional choice: if the performer chooses the improvisatory section, only a small portion of the entire section of the entire piece will consist of improvisational material based given chords, melodies from The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives, and modes (Hungarian-Bartok, Bugarian-Bartok, and Asian-Bartok).The work uses the entire range of the instrument and incorporates the composer’s own methods of creating solo melodic lines derived from a mixture of small groups of musical intervals (pitch set 0, 1, 3, 6), Ditone scale (C-Db-E-F-G#-A), and Asian Bartok scale (C-D-Eb-F#-G-A-Bb).

Composer’s Note of Cantus Curatio Series

Another artistic outlet that I have been working on as a composer is my composition series titled Cantus Curatio (“Healing Melody” in Latin) for solo instrument, which is similar to the solo composition series by Luciano Berio and Vincent Persichetti. Each piece is dedicated to victims who are diagnosed with a different disease. The inspiration for this series originated from a meeting with dancer Debra Keller (Dance faculty at Rutgers, New Jersey State University) with whom I was working for dance classes in 2003. One day in 2006 she asked me whether she could use one of my works, “Healing Melody” for Violin and Marimba (2003) for her dance project “To Mother” in Princeton, NJ because this particular piece reminded her of her mother who died of breast cancer. After the performance, I ran into several people who have suffered from breast cancer, which inspired me to write a first Cantus Curatio series piece, Cantus Curatio I for alto saxophone and piano dedicated to breast cancer patients.

Instrumentation: Trombone Solo

Duration: 5 min

Premiere: Commissioned and premiered by Tony Baker, Faculty Recital, Main Auditorium, UNT, Denton, TX, USA on Oct 29, 2009

More performance

Tony Baker, April 5, 2010, Spectrum Concert, Recital Hall, UNT, Denton, TX, USA