from:  Wood/Winds (5/5/06)

Elusive Parallels (in Time) (2005)
by Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

(notes by the composer, as found on the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble website)

Time and density are my greatest musical interests. How do we feel it? How does it slip away from us? What do we remember, and how does memory change with time? What are those moments of future insight? How does anticipation change time? Struggle? Quietude? What happens when our ticking clock loses its regularity? When the tea takes too long to boil, but when the soup boils over?

Over the years, I've written several time-charged pieces for the VCME, from A Time Machine in 1990 through Into the Morning Rain in 1999 and Fuliginous Quadrant in 2001 to this year's Elusive Parallels (in Time). This latest is once again made of luscious intertwined melodies, but the piece adds another element: historical time/memory.

The music is a pair of identical duos, one for alto flute and bass clarinet,the other for two synthesizers in fixed playback. At the microscopic level, time synchronizes and de-synchronizes with the players and the playback as I ask the musicians to make increasing efforts to keep together with the playback rhythms, knowing that at some point a breakdown will turn the duo into a dense quartet before the pairs can be untangled. Meanwhile, the texture of the playback part keeps shifting so that the duo-ness is hidden elsewhere.

The historical time/memory comes into play because the electronic part was created with my 2005 digital emulation of a 1973 analog synthesizer. The sounds are ‘fat' analog sounds, but unlike their analog grandparents, are in tune and flexible in time and motion. A tension is set up both between expectation and reality in the playback part as well as with the players' desire to balance their playing and synchronize in a musical way.

The result is, I hope, a lush and sweaty few minutes as two eras of musical innovation meet.