Thirty-One Days

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“Sometimes a composer, who may or may not be a performer, encounters a skilful player who has a remarkable ability for spontaneous creation. The challenge, then, is to devise a composed form that will encourage and allow that player to tap that talent. William Duckworth’s piece for alto saxophonist Michael Swartz is such a piece. The composer’s solution was to create seven sections of basic melodies, both traditionally and graphically notated, which are to be repeated according to a thirty-one-part Fibonacci-series-based structure (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on, adding the previous two numbers together to get the new number). Swartz was limited to reading through the score only once a day over thirty days, and then recording the piece on the thirty-first day. This was to preserve his sense of spontaneity. Swartz made both a solo version of the piece and an “ensemble version” with seven overdubbed tracks. The melodies that Duckworth created suggest traditional Eastern European music, jazz, repeated pattern music or “minimalism,” Béla Bartók, and various Asian music. Swartz’s performance throughout is lucid and sensitive, with tastefully restrained energy when necessary.”

Alto Saxophone – Michael Swartz