01.14.09 / 11:10pm // Karttikeya

Karttikeya (Study No. 1) //

Having never written for solo piano, in December I began working on a piece initially conceived as one movement in a small set of works for solo piano.  These works would serve as studies, for myself to develop aesthetics and explore new methods of generating material, as well as for the performer; perhaps as a departure from other works in the literature.  After a trip to the Asian art museum in San Francisco, I was reminded of my interest in Indian culture and their systems of organization in music.  I had already begun to sketch pitch material based on a 12-tone row, so I began to research their use of rhythmic cycles called desi-talas.  Each of the 120 ancient talas have specific cultural, spiritual and emotional associations and are used for specific events and situations.

While visiting the museum and reading some Hindu mythology, I became intrigued by the idea of writing a series of character pieces based on Hindu deities.  With this in mind, after doing some research I came across the story of Karrtikeya, a Hindu god of war and the eldest son of Shiva and Parvati.  In mid-December I set out to write the first of this seristhis series utilizing several talas chosen for their close associations with this deity Karttikeya is usually depicted with six faces and twelve arms, and was born with the sole purpose of defeating the asura (demon) Taraka, thus restoring order to the universe.

In addition to choosing talas with characteristics to evoke the image of Karttikeya, there are several structural elements that specifically use the number twelve.  This work utilizes the 12-tone system, with a total of 12 permutations of the row.  After writing the initial sketch with 12 recurring motivic gestures, I graphed them into 12 regions.  Then, I revised the sketch so that without departing from relatively strict serialism, the entrances of these 12 recurring gestures would occur symmetrically throughout the work. With these studies, I look forward to my increased knowledge of Indian music and its utilization in my own works.

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