46. The Unluckiness of Prime Numbers, 18.09

The Unluckiness of Prime Numbers (composed December 2013) is a minimalist large-scale work for piano solo in a single-movement using standard A-B-A form. The tempi between the three sections is related by a ratio of 3:2, introduced at the end of each section by either a tuplet or dotted rhythms, respectively. Beginning with a metronome marking of 192, the second section (attacca) is marked 128, and the third is 192 (accel. to the end).

First movement

The piece, intended to capture the throbbing vibrancy of the pulses that use a symmetrical phrases and sections consisting of prime numbers, is notable for its canonic interplay in the composition and casts multiple layers of overlapping sound, akin to other minimalist phase pieces, written in the previous years. This experimental work explores the rhythmic intricacies that become increasingly layered from the opening driving ostinato. Out of pulses that fade and emerge again (in the second and third movements), simple melodies are repeated in phase with other groupings of pulsating patterns between exchanges in the left and right hands. The use of interlocking repetition melodic patterns of Unluckiness, recapitulates themes in subtle varying harmonic progressions that do become more complex as the piece evolves and builds momentum. Larger patterns and design can be seen as sublayers and chordal pulses are resultant on surrounding sections becoming infused with their neighboring patterns, forming a contrapuntal web that fades into the next sequential phrase and ultimately interlocks.  

Second movement

The second moment, which nearly half the tempi, toys with the same idea of phase shifting and melodic imitation, as the recurrence of staggered repetitions dissolve musical materials and thereby create the intriguing overarching architecture of the piece’s entirety.  The movements harmonic content is derived from the reflective and modernistic setting of the movement’s abrupt ‘hang time’ feel — casting an ambiguity of time and space as measured groupings of notes cross regularly intervallic beats and barlines and phase into new melodic contours that are presented as strongly accented, yet not necessarily in the perceived new tempo — that ultimately spins an offset inconclusiveness to the interlude and provide an increasing catalyst that sets up the next movement’s fiery and propulsive finale.   

Third movement

The final movement of Unluckiness draws the listeners to the functionality of the ever-more biting dissonance that challenges the modality of the piece and ultimately breaks away to an ascending key that functions as a sharply contrasting antiphonal hocket, first heard in the changing accents of the right hand, and then to the less focused phasing rhythmic elements that offset the left hand. The incorporation of both elements, paired together, share the same peculiar cycle of chords as the first movement – primarily dominant chords with added tones to give it a darker, more chromatic sound. The movement gradually builds in ‘instrumental’ density as the both hands homorhythmically play unison, bell-like, clangorous chords that celebrate the climatically triumphant unification of a single rhythm, before dying away in the final bars in soft, hushed single tones that are echos of a imitative, disant time that has, at last, spun out from its own inertia.