Four Degrees to Organised Chaos

Music Luke Vogel | Completed April 2013

Four Degrees to Organised Chaos is my second composition assignment for University. It consists almost entirely of melodies and harmonic progressions based on perfect fourths, and many of the Cadenzas and virtuosic passages within emphasise intervals of perfect fourths and tritones. Following the striking opening in which each of the instruments produce a staggered chord built entirely on perfect fourths (from a low C in the Cello to concert Db on the Horn), the a short violin cadenza leads into a section of ‘chugging’ chords over which is a lyrical melody in the horn. Not only the horn melody is built on a progression of perfect fourths, but the ‘chugging’ chords in the violin and cello, which double stop not only between themselves, but also between one another.

This is my first piece of music where I feel I truly abandon a sense of tonality, and this is thanks largely due to the use of perfect fourths as the primary harmonic landscape. Although there are certainly sections of the piece where there is a noticable tonal centre, it is difficult to describe the tonal centre at one particular point in relation to an overarching tonal centre; nowhere can the piece be described as having modulated to the dominant, or to the relative minor, etc. Perhaps the most challenging idea for me to come to terms with was how to develop ideas, given the finite possibilities I found myself presented with when working to the restraint of using only perfect fourths. Of course, octave displacement could have been an option, but this would have led to some perfect fourths becoming perfect fifths, thereby leading to a tonal centre for the piece – and this was something I wanted to avoid at all costs. My only choice, therefore, was to turn some perfect fourths into tritones, but I found that this led to some interesting ideas and an altogether new harmonic landscape.

Four Degrees to Organised Chaos is written for a small ensemble of Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, F Horn, Violin and Violoncello, and will be available to listen to here and on SoundCloud very soon.