A Portfolio of Mirrors

for violoncello solo

Composition Details

Instrumentation

Violoncello

Duration

c. 8′

Year of composition

2014

Commission

SAMRO Foundation

Movements

  1. Mirror I
  2. Mirror II
  3. Mirror III
  4. Mirror IV

Programme Notes

As a composer and art collector, I was always interested in exploring and understanding symmetry and asymmetry. I also experimented with several inversions, retrogrades and palindromes in my compositions. In this composition, I refer to ‘mirrors’ because I see my compositional approach as reflections of notes and patterns. I am also not convinced yet that all mirrors give us a truthful reflection of whatever is placed in front of (or is it behind?) the mirror, and mirrors can reflect in different places. This composition is called A Portfolio of Mirrors because it consists of four movements of which each movement uses a conceptual ‘mirror’.

Composer’s Statement

As a composer and art collector, I was always interested in exploring and understanding symmetry and asymmetry. I also experimented with several inversions, retrogrades and palindromes in my compositions. In this composition, I refer to ‘mirrors’ because I see my compositional approach as reflections of notes and patterns. I am also not convinced yet that all mirrors give us a truthful reflection of whatever is placed in front of (or is it behind?) the mirror, and mirrors can reflect in different places. This composition is called A Portfolio of Mirrors because it consists of four movements of which each movement uses a conceptual ‘mirror’.

In Mirror I the middle line of the staff is considered as the mirror line and this composition is almost like a musical puzzle. The reflected patterns are in different places in the score and the accidentals are changed in the reflected patterns (sharp becomes flat, flat becomes sharp). All the different parts of the music are thus interdependent and different playing techniques are employed to make certain patterns aurally more salient. It is also interesting to note that the note on the middle line (when the bass clef is used), is D which is also a symmetrical center for the keys on the piano.

Mirror II is composed in a Rondo form and the set theory was employed in order to compose this movement. The pitch classes of the different pitch class sets were positioned on circles and mirror lines were drawn between pitch classes so that the pitch class sets could be reflected on the opposites of the circle to determine what the reflected pitch classes should be. The middle part of this composition is a cadenza-like segment where short motifs are interrupted by harmonics.

The third movement, Mirror III, serves as an intermezzo and starts with a short theme. The pitch classes of this short theme were used to compose short variations on the theme and the pitch classes are used on different ways, playing techniques and registers to create counterpoint in some of the variations. These pitch classes that appear in the variations are seen as reflections in different registers and places in the score.

Mirror IV is a march-like movement where a conceptual symmetrical ‘mirror’ line exists in the middle of the four strings of the cello. Thus, the notes played and depressed on strings I and II will directly reflect on strings III and IV (for example a C open string will be followed by A open string and C# on string IV will reflect as A# on string I).

Performances

4 August 2015. South African Music Concert, School of Music and Conservatory, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. Human Coetzee (Violoncello).

12 January 2021. In Retrospect. Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, Johannesburg. Flute: George Fazakas.

Media

Jaco Meyer at the South African Music Concert 2015

Poster of the South African Music Concert 2015

Music Score

The music score of this composition can be ordered from the composer through the contact page. Please ensure that you provide the correct title and version/instrumentation of the composition that you would like to order.