Published by
Project 440

Gabriella Smith

Email a Friend

(x) = xsin2x+x

Performed Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Francesco Lecce-Chong

I get a lot of my inspiration from the forms, structures, and energies in the natural world, and I also like math, which can describe these forms, designs, and energies so elegantly and concisely. This piece has three climaxes, each one bigger and more intense than the previous one.  The function f(x) = xsin2x + x simply describes the curve (an ascending sine wave) of the energy of this piece as it progresses through time.  

Down the Foggy Ruins of Time

Performed by Kelly Coyle (clarinet), Julia Li (violin), Branson Yeast (cello), and Andrew Hsu (piano) of the Curtis Institute of Music

Down the foggy ruins of time is inspired by the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s song "Mr. Tambourine Man."  It is in three movements, played without a break. The first movement, "You might hear laughing, spinning, swinging," is fast and with a groove, filled with uneven bars, jagged accented lines, and large leaps. Eventually it dissolves into quiet, downward-moving noodlings, ending with all the instruments playing at the bottom of their ranges to form a muddy, mysterious mixture. The second movement, "Down the foggy ruins of time," is in theme-and-variation form and full of dense, mysterious, foggy sonorities, eerie tremolos, gentle, mysterious glissandos, and quietly beating cluster chords. It begins mysteriously as an eerie clarinet melody emerges from the fog while the violin noodles around it, accompanied by quiet clusters in the piano. The variations of this theme gradually work their way up to a climax in which the gentle, mysterious glissandos wail, the quietly beating cluster chords pound intensely, and the eerie noodlings turn into vast sweeps across the clarinet’s range. The variations continue, now slowly dying, until the movement ends as softly as it began. The third movement, "Madly across the sun," is a fast, crazy, folksy dance that eventually loses control and spins its way into a frenzy at the end of the piece.