The Complexity of Distance (2020)
for solo electric guitar
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The Complexity of Distance, commissioned by Mike Scheidt and completed in 2020, is scored for solo electric guitar with distortion and compression effects. Though it is possible to perform the work on an instrument with a traditional (E-standard) tuning, the work is primarily intended for A-standard tuning, expanding the low register of the instrument by a perfect fifth and resulting in significant alteration to the instrument's attack, sustain, and timbre. The score includes traditional musical notation (in E-standard, scordatura) along with a bespoke chord-symbol system that will allow the performer to choose the most convenient and efficient way to realize the composition. The work's formal structure comprises three simultaneously-unfolding strands of evenly-spaced rhythmic pulses, each articulated by a chord. The first strand alternates, at a rhythmic interval of 13 beats, between chords with roots of A and C (sounding D and F in A-standard tuning). The second strand alternates, at an interval of 14 beats, between chords with roots of F and G (Bb/C). The third strand alternates, at an interval of 15 beats, between chords with roots of D and E (G/A). At intersections of pulses from different strands, pitches from the two chords are combined, and a single note from the resulting hybrid chord is frequently (though not always) sustained into the next chord (regardless of that chord's strand affiliation). Similarly, a single note is often sustained from one chord to another when pulses occur in close rhythmic proximity. Beginning and ending with a unison pulse in all three strands, the 13:14:15 ratio takes 2,730 beats to resolve. At a metronome tempo of 48, this cyclic process lasts nearly an hour.