Transcendentals (2015 – 2016)

Scoring: 19 instruments
11111[incl sax] – 111 – hp, 2pf[incl synth], 2perc – strings:2121
I. ephemerals
II. organum
Illinois Modern Ensemble, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Conductor
Smith Recital Hall, Nov 16, 2016.

Illinois Modern Ensemble (2016):
Elisa Moles, flute
Aaron Wilbert, oboe
Daniel Chair, clarinet
Annie Mason, bassoon
Evan Clark, alto saxophone
Carly Charles, horn
Joel Cantoran, Trumpet
Peter Thaddeus Tijerina, trombone
Noël Wan, harp
Hana Lim, piano 1
Serena Lee, piano 2
Daniel Trent Edwards, percussion 1
Ben Van Arsdale, percussion 2
Trevor Allyn Thompson, violin 1
Janice Lee, violin 2
Yoobin Lee, viola
Nikita Annenkov, violoncello 1
Kayla M Schoeny, violoncello 2
Ehrat Zils Guilherme, contrabass

Second Prize, Busan Maru International Music Festival Composition Competition, Korea, 2017

Duration: ca. 13.5 minutes

Program notes

"The mind is raised from the consideration of changeable numbers in inferior things to unchangeable numbers in unchangeable truth itself."
Saint Augustine, De Musica, Book VI.

        The title Transcendentals is inspired by transcendental numbers in mathematics. I encountered this fascinating concept while studying number theory at the University of Illinois. Defined as real irrational or complex numbers which are not a root of a simple polynomial equation, transcendental numbers generate infinite series of numbers from fixed algorithms / functions; a transcendental number embraces infinite series of subordinate numbers in it. If I permute the radix of a transcendental number, e.g., from decimal system to hexadecimal or sexagesimal system, I can get another constellation of unborn numbers within a given bound: here 15 for hexadecimal and 59 for sexagesimal.

        Transcendentals has its genesis in Medieval organum. Just as the vox organalis (organal voice) was added over the Cantus Firmus (vox principalis, known as the “tenor”), I created my harmonic(frequency) field progression by mapping the infinite subset of a transcendental number to the overtone series of the C. F, creating a myriad of iridescent frequency moonlets. By adjusting the sidereal bases of transcendental numbers, I further manipulated the tonal gravity of frequency nebulae and governed the idiosyncrasy of harmonic colours and levels of consonances and dissonances in each musical tableau.

Transcendentals–2nd movement, original handwritten score