Phosphenes

Complete Work Title: 

Phosphenes—modular fanfare for flute choir


Performance Medium: 

flute choir (2-3 piccolos, 4-8 C flutes, 2-4 alto flutes, 2-4 bass flutes)


Duration: 

variable (c.2:00)


Dedication: 

To Priscilla Ochran Holt and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra Flute Choir


Date Composed: 

February-March 2021


Performance Information: 
  • 15 August 2021; National Flute Association Convention (Dallas, TX)—online performance [premiere].      

    Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra Flute Choir; Priscilla Ochran Holt, director.

        


Program Notes: 

phos•phene  /fäs-fēn/ n.
A luminous image produced by mechanical stimulation of the retina, as by pressure applied to the eyeball when the lid is closed.

The notion of phosphenes—a kind of private fireworks or light show within the eyes—came to mind when I was commissioned by Priscilla Ochran Holt to compose this short fanfare for the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra Flute Choir. The unpredictability of these visual stimuli (taking the form of starbursts, swirls, spirals, squiggles, and similar abstract patterns) is also suggested by the modular nature of this work, which is comprised of five discrete and contrasting musical units that may be organized and combined in any way. The pitch material is based on a non-octave scale generated by a recursively modulating tetrachordal sequence, thus resulting in different key regions within each register of the ensemble.