Dark Patterns is a repetitive, methodical, obsessive piece. This focus was a reaction to my initial idea for the piece’s most brazen outburst, a passage in which chromatic scales peel off in layers from a broad, arch-shaped melody. The task of writing the piece became, essentially, digging a foundation and building a structure to support this brief dramatic moment.
The piece contains two kinds of material—a scale and a melody, both “circular” patterns that lead into restatements of themselves, and both of which pivot harmonically around a repeated central E. This regular pulse, heard first in the flute, harp, and muted piano, is interrupted, with increasing frequency and urgency, by low pedal tones that form the first rising scale. The end of this scale leads directly into first notes of the melodic material of the piece, introduced by a solo bassoon and always accompanied by chattering E’s. That scalar upbeat to the melody becomes increasingly elaborate, intense, and harmonically adventurous with each new iteration, yet always ends up drawn back to that central E.
A return to the opening material follows, but compacted and concentrated, the low, rising scale underscoring tempestuous excursions around the E. As the scale gradually rises from the bass to the treble, it turns distant and ambiguous, a hazy recollection of the bassoon melody accompanied by gently motoric percussion, keyboards, and harp. Wind solos moving at different speeds accumulate momentum once more, building to a section that is essentially a huge, scalar upbeat to that original dramatic crux—the climactic restatement of the bassoon melody. After this, the music plunges down once more, for a dark and chaotic restatement of the opening scale pattern, this time tangled in baleful natural-horn calls, the ostinato E now heard in shrill string harmonics.
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