Tourbillons comes from Ancient Rome. Cezanne used it to mean “chaos”, the fuzz that fills the forms of our mind’s eye. Lucretius, the ancient roman, saw little whirling things within the fabric of matter. Through the writer Emil Zola, Cezanne learned of Lucretius’ ancient poetry.
What is this musically? Perhaps noise. Perhaps something considered paradoxical or taboo. Such as the devil’s tone, the square root of two. Avoided at all costs but very fetishized in baroque music. Carried on as a neo-baroque spice in Romantic music, as in the French Whole Tone Scale.
This piece “tourbillons” is about linking Cezanno’s turbulence, through the devil’s tone, to the French Whole Tone Scale, and finally to French Horn Harmonic Technique.
A theme of misinterpretation pervaded the opera. Incidentally the French Whole Tone Scale lines up with the 4-note (C D E F#) theme of Baltimore’s “The Mark Steiner Show”*. There, it is used to suggest progress, a democratic society, a herald. Confer with “An Open Letter to Mark Steiner”, and the two radio spots we did for the opera, 1 and 2, in which you can hear the theme played by solo tuba.
Taking the Mark Steiner theme as our basis, here is how French Horn Harmonic Technique relates. Take a “D” tube and blow the 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th harmonics, [F# C D E], which is our primitive whole tone tetrachord, rotated once to the right. That is the basis of this piece, and that is why, to properly play it on the horn, you would utilize the seventh harmonic, to play a harmonic, not tempered, seventh.
Now we can discuss temperament. When mastering the Tuba and French Horn recordings (really, structured improvisations) @ Studio 1510, Oakland California, I had access to the Antares Pitch-Correction Plugin, which I liberally applied over the tuba and French Horn tracks, to explore how it automatically tempered the harmonic sevenths.
It did, which was boring, but a happier side effect had to do with the meta-tracking of the Antares. You see, it first must go on a “transcription run” and buffer the notes that are already there into its internal tracker. Thus, I found that mistakenly shifting clips in the ProTools edit window caused them to come out of sync with the “perceived notes” of the tracker; this caused spontaneous octave jumps and other articulated transpositions, that further enriched the French Horn line.
Thus the question came, should I transcribe this to music paper, and what would it look like? To do it, I procured a month-free-use copy of “Finale NotePad”. Transcribing, all the notes are hocketed from the rhythm, in sensibilities that only computer music could achieve, thus it was a challenge to bring it back to 1889 staff paper. (re)playing this music on brass would be bringing “new” music to the band.
Now, why write in “different times”? Charles Ives new the importance of people’s histories overlapping like generations of diverse clips in ProTools.
When using “Finale NotePad”, a horrible program, do you know that while I was using the “Expression Tool,” the code for it broke and it became the “Expression ToolP” and the program crashed whenever I tried to use it?!> That is why there are no expressions notated. But good slurs.
That the theme is played in both “D” and a third down in “B” is due on the mechanical level to exercise the third valve of the brass instrument. On an astral level, however, as a nod to Rudolph Steiner, a contemporary of Cezanne, to whom we shift to from Mark Steiner, in a complicated “misinterpretation web” as Rudolph Cezanno
*since then, Mark has changed his theme to something more serious sounding, in a minor harmony.