Supernova, for brass quintet (2018)

Axiom Brass

Supernova is an attempt to musically depict the end of a star’s life as it collapses and creates a black hole. The initial instability of the star is expressed by the use of asymmetric and changing meters. The organization of the asymmetric and changing meters was determined by using numbers found in Schläfli symbols that define various tesseracts which I noticed were similar to the types of asymmetric meters I love to use. I assigned numbers to each of these and determined the order in which they would appear by using a magic square in a similar manner to a 12-tone matrix in music composition. As the star starts collapses, the music becomes faster and more dissonant until pitches and time (represented by rhythm) are no longer clearly heard through the use of “boxed notation” (a type of controlled aleatoric music, or chance music) and the eventual elimination of meter all together, which is replaced by measures with specific time lengths (for example, 2 seconds). The music gradually reduces to a tone cluster, then explodes after a grand pause to become a black hole, musically symbolized by a chord built on the detuned partials of the overtone series. The pitches of this chord were determined by the radio frequencies that were found in the discovery of AT2018cow.

See the score.