21 Modes

Document Type

Musical Composition

Publication Date



Composition | Music

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

21 Modes
by Adam Bodine

In three movements.

Performed by Quartet Nouveau
April 19, 2018
French Parlor, Founders Hall
University of San Diego

Batya MacAdam-Somer and Missy Lukin, violins
Annabelle Terbetski, viola
Elizabeth Brown, cello

21 Modes was inspired by curiosity. I wanted to know how many scales would result from reordering the half and whole steps of the major scale. As it turns out there are 21. I composed each of the three movements to explore the sonorities of each scale. The first movement is inspired by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The aggressive eighth note string texture became the base of my piece from which I build gradually larger and larger chords. My second movement features an early-Renaissance compositional technique called a mensuration canon. The canon is composed so that each voice retains the same melody yet the duration of the notes is changed in proportion. In the third movement melodic lines are supported by a rhythmic texture inspired by Ewe drumming, a west African musical tradition that heavily emphasizes polyrhythms. — Adam Bodine

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