[Ben Phelps looks at a crane]
works > chamber music- eclectic > Passacaglia per augmentationem

Passacaglia per augmentationem

for Oboe, Cello, and Piano   

2007. Commissioned by the Tonoi Ensemble. 12 minutes.

Passacaglia per augmentationem is an example of my obsession with complex contrapuntal processes. Taking my inspiration from the contrapuntal masters of the past (the way past- Ockehgham to Bach), I have challenged myself to create a complex process which governs the overall contrapuntal form of the work, a process which nonetheless is also completely superficial to the actual shape and enjoyement of the music.

In Passacaglia per augmentationem, after a brief introduction, the passacaglia theme is introduced in the cello. However, each time the theme is repeated, it is elongated- meaning, notes are added. This makes it very hard to keep track of- especially since often times there are "false" themes in the other voices. After the theme grows from one note to fifty-six, it begins to shorten again. It does not remain in the cello but is passed freely amoung the various instruments. Superimposed on this process is a normal, intuitive musical structure, complete with a middle section, climax and denoument. I don't know why I do this, other than to make my life way harder. Sometimes I just have to.