Continental Drift (1988)

Instrumentation
Horn, Percussion, and Two Keyboards (one player)

Duration
8'

Commission
Commissioned by Loretta Goldberg

Notes

Continental Drift is written for french horn, percussion, and two keyboards (one microtonally altered) which are performed by one player. The piece uses a nineteen note-to-the-octave tuning system I designed to be used in conjunction with the standard twelve note equal tempered system. In this work, keyboard one (acoustic) is tuned normally, while keyboard two (digital) is microtonally altered. The seven added notes form natural intervals with each other and also with the twelve “normal” notes. This system provides a wide variety of intervallic and harmonic possibilities in both just and equal tempered tunings. The french Horn also plays microtones from the nineteen note system. Continental Drift moves through passages which at times use only one of the two tunings and, at times, combines them. The title, Continental Drift, refers to a subtle movement between musical references. While unified stylistically, the work draws on characteristics from diverse sources such as Mahler, Indonesian music, and free-jazz artists, including Albert Ayler. It is a one-movement and concentrated work, with a long melodic line paced by the horn. There is an elaborate fast-paced drum/cymbal accompaniment, and a complex backdrop of the two keyboards, at times emerging and receding in the texture

Recordings
Opus One CD #135, Tom Varner, horn; Charles Descarfino, percussion; Loretta Goldberg, keyboards

Availability
C.F. Peters Corporation

World Premiere
Sept. 26, 1988, Earplay, San Francisco

Notable Performances

April 6, 1990, Tom Varner, horn; Charles Descarfino, percussion; Loretta Goldberg, keyboards, Cooper Union, New York City
March 4, 1990, Tom Varner, horn; Charles Descarfino, percussion; Loretta Goldberg, keyboards, Roulette, New York City

Audio

Continental Drift performed by Tom Varner, horn; Charles Descarfino, percussion; Loretta Goldberg, keyboards