Players: (1) vibraphone
About “To Touch The Forever”
“To Touch The Forever” is a piece I wrote my sophomore year of college at when faced with the task of writing a piece using set theory.
The title is inspired by lyrics from Queen’s “Who Wants To Live Forever.” I wanted to create a piece for vibraphone using somewhat unconventional techniques. This piece requires an incredible amount of coordination, particularly in the second half of the piece where the performers left hand is keeping an eighth note ostinato while the right-hand cycles through patterns of eighth notes, triplets, and quintuplets.
This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve written and (as one of my earliest ‘serious’ compositions) is a piece that really progressed my love for composing.
The rhythmic structure of “To Touch The Forever” is based on the title of the piece itself. I took the phrase “To Touch The Forever” and translated it into rhythm by assigning each consonant two eighth notes and each vowel a quarter note. This pattern outlines the initial rhythmic structure of the piece. To create the second rhythmic structure, I took the initial rhythm and put each quarter note or pair of eighth notes into groups of four. The phrase “To Touch The Forever” contains seventeen letters rather than sixteen, which would be much more easily divided by four. To incorporate this seventeenth beat, I kept cycling the seventeen beats into groups of four until I ended up with a complete group of four (shown in line 5). To create the second rhythmic motif, I isolated each unique group of four beats, and compressed them into the smallest possible rhythmic structure. This resulted in a eight beat rhythmic structure and is the rhythmic foundation for the rest of the piece.
The melodic structure of “To Touch The Forever” is based on the collection of notes in Forte Set 5-20 (which contains notes G, Ab, Bb, D, Eb). By adding and subtracting pitches to this set, as well as transposing the set, I was able to create all of the different sets found throughout “To Touch The Forever.”