|liner notes by Anthony Braxton
Composition No. 102 is a work for orchestra and puppet theatre that was composed in Woodstock, New York in 1982. Premiered in Houston, Texas on April 30th and May 1st, 1982. This is a ritual and ceremonial structure that establishes a magical world of fascination and wonder. The work is constructed as a pageantry of color and movement that establishes a unique context for multimedia presentation. This is a large work that invites the listener on a voyage of unfolding dimensions and focuses. In Composition No. I02 the orchestra is positioned in front of three giant twenty-five foot tall operating puppet figures whose movements and specifications are notated in the score along with the music. To experience this effort is to enter into a fantasy world dialogue that celebrates the dynamics of movement and structural formings. A given interpretation of Composition No. 102 establishes a forward music and visual state that is intended for both children and adults. It is my hope to become involved in the world of children and family-centered music (types) in the future-because all of these matters are related to world change. Composition No. 102 is a fantasy context for sound and puppet movement and imagery. To experience this effort is to watch the awakening of three giant moving puppet figures that come alive in the space of the event. This is a two hour celebration of movement and creative interactions that places the listener in an imaginary setting (as if in a dream state or cloud setting). A given performance of this work establishes a procession of events and sound colors that opens up the visual nature of the music to fresh sensations and tendencies. Composition No. 102 introduces into being three giant operating puppet creations as a point of focus for isolated and collective movement. Each puppet is asked to perform a series of functions and interfunctions throughout the whole of the work. The experience of this phenomenon is intertwined with sound (music) to create a unique forum of magic and illusion. Composition No. 102 is a fantasy context that provides terms for the occasion. Each puppet in this context is constructed so that independent and unison movement positions are possible. This is necessary because all three puppets are asked to perform a spectrum of designated movements and functions. In the beginning of the music there is a procession statement during which the puppets are covered (or behind screens). But as the music gradually unfolds into the forward moment each puppet is brought to life separately so that we can experience the wonder of its presence. Composition No. 102 moves to establish an imaginary dream state continuum that centers on the nature of each puppets individual and collective dynamics. (And interaction tendencies). The reality of this forum is constructed as a con pos its envi ron m ent context that establishes a series of forming (sound) shape relationships (and tendencies). Composition No. 102 is dedicated to the American master Jim Henson .
Composition No. 102 is a collage form sound continuum that establishes three principal time/space parameters and nine principal language starategies. The reality of this effort is conceived as a language mixture component context that generates forward development by notating the mixture balance of its principal structural areas. Collage forming in this context refers to the use of independent line continuums that are shifted from section to section (based on the coward structural tendencies of the music). In Composition No. 102 we are transported to a continuum of evolving strategies that emphasises the use of static and active construction occurences and timbral and focus specifications. This is a music of forming and re-forming shape blocks that maintains a central property mix from beginning to end. Forward strategies in this context then involve the position of a given mixture and what it adds or takes away from the thrust presence of the music. Before this can be discussed it is necessary to first establish the principal language systems of the music which are (1) open to closed (sequence) sound beam constructions, (2) the use of phrase grouping line formations, (3) staccatto line formations, (4) chromatic runs, (5) grace notes and (6) metric constructions. All of the various material strategies of Composition No. 102 involve some mixture of these variables - and as such, it is important to clarify what these terms refer to. By the term 'open and closed sequence' I am refering to chord positioning and voicing decisions. With this variable a given chord is open or closed as a structural process that underlines how events are formed into the space of the music. This is made apparent in the very beginning of the music. Composition No. 102 is constructed as a sound world context that first establishes one primary grouping tendency. The figure is an open an closed long sound line beam strategy that forms the beginning figure (point of focus) of the music. This principle is then taken and re-positioned on every level throughout the whole of the music. The nature then of a given variable is based on the forward scheme of the music. In the beginning an open and closed sequence sound line is used to establish a (linear) continuum of parallel line shifts that alternate in various rhythms and time changes. The nature of this phenomenon is perceived as an extending of the music's time/space and presence - as the opening two line pitch sequence is spread into the forward time/space of the music (and assumes longer and longer time distances to complete its shift). The first variation of this phenomenon establishes the use of independent sound line changes between upper and lower voice movement - that is, the upper voice pitches in the sequence can change from its open to closed voicing pitch separate from its lower voice movement. When this operative takes place the shape print of the music is altered and the next variation of the principle is set up. The open/closed long sound pattern 15 a principle language generating that underlies the composite route and event nature of Composition No. 102. Even with the gradual use of changing chord structures and multiple directives to is operative maintains the same identity and role in the music. The nature of this sequence moves as a balancing line block forum that keeps changing weight throughout the whole of its time/ space. To experience this factor in the music is to hear a continuum of shifting and inter-shifting long sound beams that drifts through the space of the music. The nature of this phenomenon acts as a catatlyst for all forward occurences as well as a material anchor that helps establish the hypnotic influences of the music. This is so because Composition No. 102 is a transcendental-like sound state that creates a spiral of construction tendencies. To experience this sound state is to enter a revolving state of construction shapes (language) and focuses which allow for fresh perception dynamics.