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Inch and Mile

There are 63,360 inches in a mile.


At the time that I was writing this piece I was thinking a lot about the cumulative nature of human interactions. For instance, it takes thousands (or millions, rather) of little arrogant, adverse, or uncompromising actions between individuals on a daily basis over a long period of time to create a military conflict. Likewise, it takes just as many little understandings, compromises, humblenesses, and forgivenesses to create large-scale social change. While this doesn’t necessarily have any direct relationship to Inch and Mile, it is perhaps reflected in the way the music is assembled. Rather than grouping the instruments together into sections, as is more traditional in orchestral writing, the 20 musicians all have unique and individual parts. Many of the parts are paired with some kind of complementary link between two instruments, with the pairings changing throughout the work. As it progresses, these pairings sometimes accumulate into larger groupings of musicians, until at the end one could almost say that the orchestra was unified.

Much of Inch and Mile is in just intonation, meaning that the intervals between instruments are tuned very precisely to pure intervals from the natural harmonic series, as is most of my music. I am fascinated by this interaction between the very rational and elegant side of the natural world and its wild and organic counterpart. In this case one could say perhaps that the notes are the rational part, while the humans playing them are the wild part. The piece is entirely an exploration of the relationships between the instruments, their sounds, the people playing them, and between the various lines of music present. I may have accidentally written a sort of socialist piece.

Andrew McIntosh


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