Schat's Tone Clock in jazz and improvised music, by Theo Hoogstins.
Piet Mondriaan: Victory
Boogie Woogie (unfinished), 1942-1944
|Victory Boogie Woogie
On august 28, 1998, the Dutch
government acquired this last and unfinished painting by Mondriaan, for
an amount over 80 million guilders. My
main objection against this purchase was that the money disappeared in
the pockets of a private person (mr. S. Newhouse, who had it displayed
in his New York apartment), whereas the money could also have been spent
on stimulating alive Dutch artists. Towards me, the Dutch government made
a better gesture: The "Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst" commissioned
me to write this composition for the Rotterdam Jazz Project. The available
budget however, was only 0,005% of the amount that was spent on the Victory
The shape of the composition is based on a figure derived from
Peter Schat's Tone Clock. I used the third, the sixth, the ninth and the
twelfth hour. If lines are drawn between these hours in a Tone Clock
module, the following picture comes into existence:
The composition consists of squares in different colors, that are being
cued by the conductor. If these squares are drawn in the first picture,
it becomes clear how the shape of the composition is related to the painting.
The harmony of the first part of the composition is based on two series.
The first one is derived from the third hour, the second one from the sixth
I rearranged these two series in a way the triads of the two
hours succeed each other. The first series starts of with a triad of the
third hour, succeeded by one of the sixth hour, than again the third hour
succeeded by the sixth. In the second series I turned this the other way
round, and started with the sixth hour. Both series remain twelve tone
because I maintained the original steering:
The two series are then put on top of each other, in a way that the
triads of the different series have one note incommon all the way through.
In this way groups of five notes are created. These groups are used as
chords, and are named in a manner, appropriate in jazz:
The first solo is based on
these types of harmonies. The chords only change after a cue by the conductor:
the cue starts a melody, played by five saxophones in harmony, during which
the chord changes. A total of eight melodic fragments, every one different
from the other, indicate every chord change. The bass and the guitar play
an ostinato motif, that changes simultaneously with the chords in key:
When eight cue's have passed, the melody is introduced, accompanied
by the same changes. Bass and guitar continue playing the ostinato motif;
only after the melody is played twice, they start accompanying more freely.
The changes are also basis for the second solo:
In the second part, I used the ninth and the twelfth hour, both steered
by the tenth hour; the triads are being steered by minor thirds.
The brass section plays the
twelfth hour as harmony, and the other sections play the twelve tone series
based on the ninth hour. The part is written in up tempo swing. Due
to the fact that a section, led by the first alto, opens in quadruple notes,
the movement starts of half time. Only after the introduction of soprano
sax and clarinet in eighth notes, the up tempo movement starts. The different
phrases are played on cue, and in the solo they are played as backgrounds,
also on cue.
In the third part, the finale, a twelve tone boogie woogie is introduced.
The ninth hour, steered by the tenth hour, constitute the basis for the
boogie woogie motif:
This motif is played by three tenor saxophones and one baritone plays
In the second part, the
boogie woogie motif is already being played as background in another time
and on cue. A chaotic situation occurs, wherein two different time concepts
are being played simultaneously. Thus a battle between the rhythm section
and the saxophones comes into being, that is finally won by the saxophones,
starting off the boogie woogie. The form is based on a twelve bar blues,
thus relating to the original boogie woogie changes.
The melody is based on the third and the ninth hour.
In triplets, two triads of the third hour are played, followed by two
triads of the ninth hour. The harmonic section in the third bar is in the
When the melody is played once, the trumpets are added, playing very
aggressive signals in third hour harmonies:
Approaching the end of the
piece, the boogie woogie evolves more and more to chaos, as if there is
no ending to the piece and the musicians find themselves trapped in trying
to find a final chord. Suddenly the square boogie woogie motif evolves
from this chaos, initiating the end.