Principles and Metaphor: The Concept of “Wholeness”
In Roger Reynolds’s Fantasy for Pianist (1964)

Dzovig Markarian

The purpose of this article is to organize and examine the different topics that contribute to the analysis and performance of Roger Reynolds’s Fantasy for Pianist. This includes a brief history of the creation of the piece, a preliminary examination of the sketches, which are located at the Library of Congress, examination of the published score, which uses traditional and graphic notation, and a theoretical analysis of the form of each movement. This narrative will be accompanied by some performance observations, both as recorded during a coaching session with the composer, and as analyzed-realized during my own performance preparations.

Fantasy for Pianist is a revolutionary piece. In an era dominated by modernism and miniatures, this piece presents a four-movement composition with a delicate balance between tradition and modernism.

Composed between 1963 and 1964, in the years following Reynolds’s graduation from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (1957-1961), and at the dawn of his European career which began in 1963, Fantasy for Pianist reflects on Reynolds’s impressions of the teachings of his mentors, composers Ross Lee Finney (1906-1997) and Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970), as well as his encounters with other influential composers such as Milton Babbitt, John Cage and Edgard Varèse. As such, the piece combines important compositional trends from the half century that preceded it – mainly a special kind of serialism and a certain aspect of American experimentalism, together with the spirit of masterpieces from the piano repertoire in general – mainly the development of form through the techniques of exposition, development, recapitulation and coda, and Reynolds-the pianist’s own adoration of specific pieces from this repertoire, such as Frédéric Chopin’s Fantaisie op. 49 (1841), and Aaron Copland’s Piano Variations (1930).

Besides musical explorations mentioned above, this piece draws on an extra-musical element, as it is based on the analysis of textures observed in four photographs, which the composer took near his apartment window during his years as a graduate student, where he had observed various contrasting groupings of twigs, vines, and pieces of broken branches, all lying in the snow. The many features offered by these once living natural elements, such as their random groupings, shapes, thicknesses and various parts, still suggest direction and movement, density and intensity, velocity and duration, interaction and conflict among contrasting elements, thus inspiring life into the composition, in the form of a whole array of gestures, which are first presented in the first movement as four ‘cells,’ or four units of highly condensed musical information. While the original photographs are lost, the composer has recently created a sketch with which he illustrates some of these textures and their contrasting features.

Figure 1:
“Stalks, vines, twigs in the snow:” a recent sketch by Roger Reynolds, to represent textures and groupings originally observed in the four photographs (now lost). Email correspondence, January 2015.

While it remains impossible to compare each cell or each movement to the original photograph which inspired it, the characteristics of each grouping in the above sketch, present an invaluable suggestion to the various musical gestures in the actual score, and they speak to the importance that the composer’s working sketches present, in understanding the compositional process, equally for purposes of analysis and performance.

The archived sketches, which are currently located at the Library of Congress under the collective name Roger Reynolds Collection, store the bulk of the sketches of Fantasy for Pianist. These working documents demonstrate the level of pre-compositional planning, and the various principles, which played a most important role in the structure of the piece. Even though all this material is essentially undated and unpaginated, it is possible to assume a basic logical chronology, such as in the case of the inscription of the row and application of proportions to temporal structuring of movements, which probably preceded the detailed planning of each movement, which in turn preceded the actual musical sketches. Another logical indication to chronology is Reynolds’s system by which he groups the various phases of composition, whereby he uses verbal annotation on blank pages with indications of movement numbers (Roman numerals I through IV to designate the four movements), followed by short titles such as “early version,” “first sketch,” and “complete plan.” Counting close to 130 sheets, these working sketches can be grouped into three categories: musical sketches on staff paper, mathematical calculations or tables on graph paper, and various row and fragment works on plain paper. The musical sketches can further be grouped into three, according to their level of completeness: sketches, drafts and fair copies.

While it is true that the overall observation of these sketches may offer only a glimpse into the composer’s “spiritual workshops,” however, there are four sketches, which suggest a definitive structure to the analysis of the piece:

1/The 12-tone row: the original 12-tone row, or P0 (which is marked as P2 in the sketches) is not obvious in the score. Textures are often very thick, contrapuntal, and registral use tends to be serialized and often leads to a pointillistic layout of the pitches of the row, which often become scattered on multiple staves. Also, most of the music uses many different forms of the original row. Therefore, knowledge of the original row through the sketches enables the analysis to trace P0 throughout the score, or other important row forms, and thus, to understand the important structural points, and the role of various row forms.

Figure 2:12-tone row in Fantasy for Pianist,from the Sketches for
Fantasy for Pianist in the Roger Reynolds Collection at the Library of Congress.

2/Temporal proportions: the background or macro structure uses this same row as the basis for the temporal structure, as Reynolds groups the pitch class numbers into four, then multiplies the total of each group by ten, arriving at the proportional duration of each movement (here the movements are indicated in capital letters A-B-C-D). Knowledge of the background structure indicates how the temporal proportions, which initially created sections and sub-sections in each of the four movements, also contributed to the tempo changes. Consequently, this feature of the 12-tone row plays a determining role in the creation of the form of each movement, where tempo changes frequently, indicating the character of improvisation inherent to a fantasy.

Figure 3: Grouping of the row into four segments, and the resulting temporal proportions of each of the four movements, from the Sketches for Fantasy for Pianist in the Roger Reynolds Collection at the Library of Congress.

3/Fixed octave timings: not only do the tempo changes and techniques of end of sections indicate ends and beginnings, so does the placement of specific pitches in strategic positions, or saturation of a passage with a specific pitch in a fixed register, in indicating the identity of a section, in heightening the tension of a section, in delaying the arrival or resolution of tension or “cadence,” as well as in marking the beginning and ending of one. Graphs called “Fixed Octave Timings” which are planned at the sketch level indicate a specific periodicity for each of the pitch classes of a specific row form.

Figure 4: Sample from Fixed Octave Timings, from the Sketches for Fantasy for Pianist
in the Roger Reynolds Collection at the Library of Congress.

The pitch-centricity that is created as a result of this principle, is expressed in many ways throughout the score: consecutively as a repeated note in a fully notated situation, such as the most prominent example in the middle of the second movement where G4 is repeated for almost thirteen beats and in 32nd note rhythm (mvnt. II, mm. 31-34); as a repeated note where a single note is marked on the score and it is accompanied by the verbal annotation which says “ad lib.” (mvnt. I, cell d, m. 21); as notes mapped over the stretch of a specific section, such as at the opening of the second movement, where six different notes repeat over the span of eight measures, as A#1, G#2, A4, C5, B5, G6 (mvnt. I, mm. 1-8). Other non-consecutive repeated notes are found in the form of very low or very high register pedal-tones such as the one introduced in cell b (mvnt. I, m. 15), where an E1 repeats five times in one measure as the lowest note of a five-layer texture. Other such pedal-tones are found in the fourth movement as left hand vertical sonorities, such as A0-B0-Bb0 (mvnt. IV, m. 45), or C#1 repeated five times in one measure of an interlude (mvnt. IV, m100); or B0 repeated “ad lib.” for three measures and then held for three additional measures (mvnt. IV, mm. 111-117).

The principle of repetition with or without gradual variation is also present at the level of the extended techniques, where the rasping of wound strings for example is always notated for a low B, and more specifically twice for a B1, and once for a B0. This endless disciplining of elements creates references and expectations, therefore hierarchies are born and forms take shape in a landscape of coherence. The first rasping of a low B for example, takes place twice in the third movement, and more specifically on the 3rd and 11th bars of the first phrase. When we hear the rasping of a low B0 three quarter ways through the fourth movement (m. 102), the technique of rasping is this time at the end of the first section of the fourth movement, and more specifically as the opening gesture of an interlude.

Our idea of the fourth movement already presents a familiarity with extended techniques, which have been raging through the score in loud percussive outbursts. While these were all chromatic clusters, which used the keyboard exclusively, the sudden rasping of B0 wound strings comes as a surprise as it uses the strings to produce a sound internally. The return of a low B string rasping sound in the fourth movement indicates then some kind of a recapitulation associated with the third movement. It also hints to a culmination of some sort.

Whenever an identifying character specific to a principle returns out of or away from its original context, it serves not only to repeat the role it had played earlier, but also to create disorder, interruption of some sort: it heightens the tension of a section by prolonging the influence of a phrase or a gesture. Regardless of these passing instances, every movement and every respective cell to begin with, has its dominant characteristics, which are all centralized, or so to speak “developed” in their respective movements.

As seeds within the various cells split and develop, and details migrate and merge, the technique of repeated notes is picked up by the whirring gestures or patterns of the fourth movement, as specific row forms combine to create an ostinato in the higher treble registers, and saturate entire sections by continuously repeating while phasing out of completeness and by forming fragments of rows or by morphing into other gestures. In such cases then, it is not just single designated notes that are repeated, but entire row forms (at the beginning of the section), or fragments of row forms (to extend the section and heighten tension). The aggregate completes one last time to indicate the end of the section, or the cadential point.

The texture, which opens both main sections of the fourth movement, is not only organically related to the whirring elements in its own cell or cell d (mvnt. I, mm. 19-22), it is also closely related both in shape and texture to the opening barrage of the first movement, with the difference that now the right hand 16th note gestures use single notes as opposed to multiple-note chords, and the resonance chords in the bass are either made of single notes themselves, or arrived at by playing and holding down a few notes to create the resonance of a chord, as opposed to simultaneously striking all the notes of the chord.

4/The actual plans for the movements: these plans show duration, tempo marking, specific characteristics such as motion, harmonic content, dynamics and range, sections and sub-sections with their own durations and details concerning dramaturgy such as pitch, attack, and design of motivic units. Observing these specifics at the level of the sketches, guides the understanding towards the importance of dramaturgy. Other than the plans for temporal proportions, which remain constant from the planning stage to the actual composition, all the other means of serialization have evolved with the creative demands of the score, and may not necessarily find their exact match in the completed score. For example, this observation can be applied to the metronomic markings of some of the movements.

Figure 5: Early Plan for movement I, from the Sketches for Fantasy for Pianist
in the Roger Reynolds Collection at the Library of Congress.

The score reveals a landscape of traditional and graphic notation often accompanied by verbal annotations, where the principles of the row blossom, and interact with the principles of dramaturgy and the principles of the four “cells” which are introduced in the first movement.

In the notes, which precede the printed score, the composer lists and explains two sets of graphic notations: those to be produced on the keyboard, and those to be produced internally on the strings inside the piano. Graphic notation decorates the score very selectively, and enhances its already very expressive palette. In addition to the highly expressive extended techniques which appear both in bold and soft gestures, there is a third dimension that contributes to the expressivity and dramaturgy of the piece, and that is the serialized use of attack, or the use of dynamic markings. These range from ppppp to ffff, andcharacterize each movement in general, as well as entire sections where often there is a very loud gesture, or an explosion, followed by gradually dying sounds or echoes. In the early plans, the composer specifies the overall dynamic character of each movement, such as “moderate” for the first, “abrupt” for the second, “generally decay” for the third, and “uniformly soft” for the fourth. These decisions are not inscribed in the printed score.

Additionally, in each section and sub-section, various motivic and rhythmic elements are each equipped with their own fixed dynamic attribute, and they repeat and evolve through metaphor, thus creating a sense of theater or actors with different roles, as well as a sense of space or landscape, which is a strong indication of Reynolds’s preliminary search at composing for spatialized acoustics.

Effects achieved from the keyboard include the preparation of resonances through silent clusters which are produced by silently pressing a group of notes and holding the dampers up with the sostenuto pedal, and noisy clusters produced with the use of clustered fingers, closed or open palm, one wrist, two arms, or elbow. Effects achieved internally by manipulating the strings inside the piano include plucking one or more strings with a soft of hard pick to produce pizzicato sounds, running a pluck horizontally on the strings of three consecutive keys back and forth to create the sound of a triple glissando on three designated strings, lightly pressing a string down with a finger so as to stop it from resonating and to allow the note to produce instead a dry wooden sound while simultaneously striking its respective key on the keyboard with the other hand, rasping a wound string or a cluster of wound strings lengthwise with a finger or hard pick to create a deep vibrating sound, strumming a general area of strings with clustered fingertips on one or both hands, touching a node on a string with a finger while simultaneously playing the respective key with the other hand in order to produce desired harmonics as notated on the score above the actual note.

The use of these techniques is organically related to the games of the row, as well as the principles presented by the Fixed Octave Timings, and those dictated by dramaturgy and the demands of the form, its sections and sub-sections. A simple observation of these techniques shows how carefully they are chosen and placed in the score, as an important indication to the character of each movement, with each note being a strategic pitch in a strategically chosen register with a serialized attack, which also forms an important interval as suggested by the intervallic relationships of the row. Each movement chooses a different set of extended techniques, and even though their character is central and specific to each movement, these extended techniques are often introduced earlier in preceding movements, before becoming central features in their respective movements. While each movement mainly focuses on presenting and developing its own cell, the fact that it also integrates elements characteristic to other cells gives the piece a “sense of belonging.”

The selective use of graphic notation is common to the entire piece. In the first movement for example, there is only one silent cluster which immediately precedes cell b, and two notes of quiet pizzicato which introduce the resonances of cell c; in the second movement, six muted notes, one noisy and one silent cluster; in the third movement, eight plucked notes, four instances of rasping wound strings, numerous silent as well as noisy clusters, several instances of manipulating harmonics and creating and releasing resonances. The last movement uses only two manipulations on the strings, in a section, which recapitulates the third movement. It instead uses numerous noisy clusters as one of its main features, perhaps to indicate the climax of the larger piece, both structurally and dynamically.

Introduced in the first half of the twentieth century by composers both in America and Europe, such as Henry Cowell and Mauricio Kagel, graphic notation which calls for extended techniques on the piano including its keyboard and soundboard, primarily explores the sonic possibilities of the instrument while enhancing expressivity and contributing to the theatricality of the piece. While many of the symbols of graphic notation have become “standard” notation in contemporary scores, their presentation in a score remains essentially graphic, meaning that they still are not included in the lists of symbols offered by most music softwares, and their execution remains somewhat experimental, which means that the performer can imagine or produce slightly different effects as she/he interprets the design of each symbol and its accompanying definition, if any listed in the score. At this point, it is important to state that although Fantasy for Pianist uses these so-called experimental techniques, their use is very selective, their notation is very precise and annotated, and the piece never becomes an experimental composition.

While Cowell saw in clusters a way to experimentally organize overtone series, and Cage used extended techniques as an experimental approach to transform the piano into a percussion orchestra, Reynolds, however, organized and balanced these same extended techniques very selectively, and in favor of textures achieved on the keyboard. Any notation other than the standard, whether it is the use of graphic notation with verbal annotations, or the few instances of tempo markings where the composer writes a certain motif and adds annotations such as ‘as fast as possible,’ or ‘24 seconds,’ or ‘relatively long tones,’ ‘repeat slowly and irregularly ad lib,’ ‘play within a gradually accelerated tempo,’ are Reynolds’s way to complement an otherwise deficient or insufficient notation. More than anything, graphic notation used in this piece invites only the slightest indeterminacy into the interpretation, and never a full-blown improvisation, and certainly not aleatoric music either. Every graphic notation comes with a full description in the notes preceding the score, as well as verbal annotations in the actual score for most cases. Therefore, the minimal variation that is expected from one interpretation to the next, can be for example the number of times a note repeats when it is marked to be repeated “ad lib”, or the exact range of notes a palm covers when the score calls for a palm chromatic cluster, etc.

What gives a sense of improvisation to the overall piece besides the presence of graphic notation is the use of alternating and often greatly contrasting metronomic markings. While they are originally an illustration of the temporal proportions of each movement, section and sub-section, these tempo markings become identifying markers to the characteristics of the original cells they belong to, when they appear in subsequent movements. The first movement, for example, is marked ♩=132. This marking stays unique to the first movement, and when it briefly appears in the fourth movement as a single bar interlude, halfway through the ongoing ostinato section which is in ♩=168, it becomes a sharp reminder of the opening barrage also because it uses continuous 16th note rhythms with multiple note chords in both hands similar to the barrage. Another tempo marking which acts as a defining characteristic to one movement and appears in another only briefly as a short interlude is the one that defines the second half of the fourth movement, ♩=180, and which anticipates its ‘home’ movement by appearing halfway through the second movement in the same time signature of ¾, as an interruption to a section in ♩=60.

All the means of expressivity illustrated above are at the service of the music. The 12-tone row is also used in favor of the character of the piece, just as the use of extended techniques was, as the overall form of each movement behaves according to the demands of the fantasy itself. After defining the background structure, the row used at the middle and foregrounds, does not assume an arch-melody. Instead, its pitches act more atonally than serially, while its characteristics assume hierarchical roles similar to roles that scale degrees have in tonal settings. The forms of the row, which are now acting as a “resource” more so than a “motive,” contribute to the landscape in patterns of sometimes two or three interwoven forms, thus allowing a specific pitch to be repeated, or another to be delayed. Consequently, the beginning fragment of a row form and the registral location of its pitches, as well as the characteristics of the row in terms of its symmetries, tritones and semitones, take more importance than the actual delivery and perfect succession of all the 12 pitches in a specific form of the row.

Observed at P0, which is P2 in the sketches, {2, 5, 6, 3, 9, 7, 8, 10, 4, 12, 1, 11}, the row reveals some important characteristics which will be found in the score as chords, clusters, important structural indications, repetitive patterns, etc:

-two sets of symmetries, one at the level of the first tetrachord {2, 5, 6, 3}, and the other at the level of the hexachord which begins on the fourth note of the row {3, 9, 7, 8, 10, 4}.

-two tritones, one rising and the other falling: {3, 9}, and {4, 12}.

-two instances of the interval of the major 3rd: {2, 5}, and {8, 10}.

-two instances of the interval of the minor 2nd: {5, 6}, and {7, 8}.

-a diminished octave: {12, 1}.

-a major seventh: {1, 11}.

-D is the first note of the original row, and it is often used in the score to denote “tonality” or cadential arrival. C# is the lowest note of the row, and often appears as a “leading tone” to a final cadence. B is the last note of the row, and it is often used as a dramatic feature, such as B7 sffz attacks and B0 and B1 rasping of wound strings: these notes can be observed throughout the movements as very important indications of the development of the form (the piece ends in a low D-D# augmented octave open chord), pitches C# and B also in lower registers behave like leading tones, to indicate the progression towards the end of the piece in the various sections that they highlight, etc.

In conclusion, characteristics of the row carry out roles throughout the piece that can be compared to the hierarchical roles presented by traditional tonality. Some row forms, which are obvious and traceable in the piece act as the melody or motivic pattern of a section, and not the arch-melody of the entire piece. The other row forms which only for a beginning fragment are recognizable and then morph into repeating or delayed notes and usually end up forming the chromatic aggregate, hence the case of repeated notes, are acting as such specifically due to the method of braiding, which Reynolds states to have incorporated in this piece as one of Gerhard’s important teachings. As a result, we often observe that it takes more than 12 beats or notes to complete the aggregate, and a serial analysis becomes simply impossible. At the foreground then, the 12-tone row often suggests the beginning few notes or a fragment of a row form, and we can tell what ‘zone’ we are in, even if we cannot tell for sure what row form this is. This suggests occasional hierarchical appearances of strategic notes, and an overall approach to combinatoriality, where gestures, playfulness and expressivity through form remain the main goals. The use of serialism in this piece then, does not strictly follow Schoenberg’s or Webern’s approach, two composers who generally organized pitches strictly according to the original row and other row forms from the remaining 47 presented by the matrix. Reynolds’s approach of allowing some atonality and even some tonality into serialism, allows for the piece to develop into affording repetitions, and not only build more interdependence and playfulness, but to create cohesion.

Whereas for Schoenberg serialism was primarily a system, and for Cowell it represented a method, for Reynolds serialism became a way through which he created a unique language, one with which he ultimately aims to organize the pitch content through the spirit of serialism, and in an atmosphere where classical form-building is still very important to lead the overall direction of the piece, and where discontinuity strives to achieve continuity, and conflict struggles to achieve resolution. This Reynoldsian language as established in Fantasy for Pianist, which is the composer’s second piano piece in a repertoire that continues to grow to this day, provides for realistic and equally creative and idealistic solutions to writing pieces for the instrument in the classical genres such as this fantasy, and others such as his Variation, and Piano Etudes, Book I. Even the proportional durations of the movements, which as explained previously, define the initial planning for the durations of each of the four movements, as well as to the sections and sub-sections within them, do not, in the end, define the form, but merely enliven and define the character of the inner forms, as these essentially remain one-part forms, which is the only “form” that distinguishes the improvisational aspect of a fantasy.

The form of movements II, III, and IV can best be traced and understood by first observing cells a, b, c, and d, which after being presented in the first movement, develop throughout the piece in a formal approach often referred to by Reynolds as “metaphor.”

1/ Cell a counts 11 measures of ♩=132, and it consists of multi-note chords in 16th note rhythm, which first establish a solo “barrage” in the treble registers, before the pedal-tone chordal accompaniments begin in the bass. Dynamics are exclusively set for fff, except for when the 16th note run becomes interrupted (five times) by generally faster rhythmic rushes, where the dynamic level temporarily increases to ffff. These interrupting pockets come notated in various rhythms, such as a 16th note decuplet, and a 32nd note quintuplet. Every two beats or so the chromatic aggregate is achieved, however, because of simultaneities it is very difficult to predict what row form is at the core. What is obvious however is that the motivic pattern and the rhythmic pattern are not equal, and this creates a canonic décalage which declares the playfulness of the composition from this very start. This relentless barrage, which can be compared to the “thick tangles of bare branches in the snow,” culminates into a three layer chord which resonates for three measures, as the metronomic marking changes to ♩=52.

Figure 6: Mvnt. I, mm. 1 and 4, from cell a, Fantasy for Pianist, C. F. Peters Corporation.

The development and metaphor of the rhythmic, chordal, gestural, and dynamic characteristics of cell a are not centralized in a movement dedicated to them, contrary to the way cells b, c, and d are, in their respective movements II, III, and IV. Nonetheless, the principles found in cell a transform, develop, and project their characteristics all throughout the score, almost assuming an over-arching role over cells b, c, and d. Consequently, some such exhibitions can be observed in gestural motifs with very fast, very loud, rhythmically complex, chordal and pointillistic events, such as intensification chords with various geometric shapes: vertically or horizontally fanning chords, pyramid chords, and other thick gestures used as pick ups to loud clusters and so on. For example, the very ending of the piece, or the undulating gesture which closes the piece at the end of the fourth movement, while presenting dynamic, registral, and textural sharp contrasts to the opening barrage, carries similarities to the barrage in terms of its unrelenting pace, use of 16th note rhythm, and occasional chordal accompaniments: the ending is a dynamically and texturally thinner version of the barrage, as well as one which unlike the barrage which is centered in the treble registers, encompasses all registers, and beginning in the treble, ends in the bass.

The fate of cell a becomes known decades later in 2011, when it becomes composed-out into an entire piano étude called “Barrage.” This is the farthest that metaphor has carried a principle away from Fantasy for Pianist.

At the end of cell a, the measures devoted to the extended resonance of the arrival chord represent the silence which separates the cells, and which is symbolic of the snow, where according to the photographs, the twigs and vines lay. Cell a as well as the remaining cells bear a close resemblance to miniatures in a series, which are intended to be played consecutively after short silences. One can only speculate why Reynolds did not choose to present cells a, b, c, and d as four miniatures in a complete score, and instead chose to develop and transform the cells and their individual characteristics into larger movements.

2/ Cell b consists of one measure, and contains three beats of notated music, followed by a rest.

This cell presents a sharp contrast to the previous one: not just the duration of the cell, but also the layering which uses five components, the texture which is primarily dependent on repeated notes with the exception of a few simultaneities which are much thinner than ones observed in cell a, and lastly the rhythmic composition which juxtaposes three different combinations of triplet rhythms with the top layer presenting an ABA rhythm of the composite quintuplet-triplet-quintuplet. Additionally, not all sounds are created conventionally by striking the keys: this cell is prepared by a silent cluster, which will allow the three-beat gesture to resonate in a metallic deep vibrating sound. The dynamic markings present a much more colorful scheme in this cell, with a very fast swell from the p of the first beat to the sffz of the two-thirds of the second beat.

From the bottom to the top, this cell illustrates the juxtaposition of five pitches in fixed octave timing: the first layer contains five repetitions of E1, (the second layer is a silent cluster), the third layer repeats the C#6 seven times, the fourth layer repeats B6 twice, and finally the fifth layer begins by repeating D7 five times in the first half of the gesture followed by nine repetitions of D#7. The final or top-most layer presents the shape or the melody, the dynamic shape of which looks like a quasi-curve: p-fff-p-ppp.

This cell achieves the chromatic aggregate in two fashions: with the sounding pitches it uses, and with the chromatic cluster. Furthermore, the individual pitches of this cell not only carry significant characteristics based on the pitch classes of the original row, but also lend characteristics to strategic locations within the larger piece. For example, the note of its lowest layer, the low E1 will become the first note of the third movement heard as a harmonic, and it will also be the last note of the same movement heard as a regular E1. The first dyad in the fifth layer, or the diminished octave [D#6-D7] will return at the end of the piece in an inverted position, to close the fourth movement on a low [D1-D#2] augmented octave.

Figure 7: Mvnt. I, m. 14 and the first three beats of m. 15, from cell b , Fantasy for Pianist, C. F. Peters Corporation.

The material in this cell bears close resemblances to the “vines circling an axial branch,” which is a perfect way to capture counterpoint and embellishments in music. This fast rhythmic tendency will develop into even faster figurations, which look like grace notes, in the sense that they are marked in smaller font in the score, but are made of a lot more notes than grace notes usually appear, such as ten note groupings, fifteen notes, and sometimes entire sections consisting of five or six bars.

In his notes, the composer defines the character of this cell as “strict and periodic.” As such, the periodicity and fixed octave timings suggested by this cell become the governing principles of many sections within the second movement. The section that opens movement II, for example, (mvnt. II, mm. 1-8) presents six main notes at fixed octaves each, and each one repeating a specific number of times throughout the section: A#1 repeats 3 times, G#2 repeats 4 times, A4 repeats 6 times, C5 repeats 4 times, B5 repeats 5 times, and finally G6 repeats (basically) 5 times (add to that repeat ad lib). The complement or [C#-D-D#-E-F-F#] of this hexachord [G-G#-A-A#-B-C] immediately follows in the next section, (mvnt. II, mm. 9-13) where each main note repeats as well: E5 repeats 3 times, F#5 repeats 3 times, D6 repeats 9 times, D#6 repeats 4 times, F6 repeats 3 times, and finally C#7 repeats 12 times.

3/ Cell c consists of two measures, during which the time signature changes to 7/4, probably to accommodate the duration of texture, which calls for “relatively long tones.” Defined as “lyrical and sonorous,” this cell contains the first and only internal extended technique present in all four cells combined: plucking of G4 and A3, using one hard pick and one soft pick, respectively. Preceded by silence and ending in silence, similar to the cell which preceded it, the dynamic shape favors soft beginning and soft ending: p-pp-sffz-mf-pppp. The texture here is pointillistic with single notes and with relatively much simpler rhythms than the previous cells. The pitch material once again brings reminiscences of the important intervallic content that the row presents, such as a tritone [F#4-C4], and a diminished octave [A-Ab].

Figure 8: Mvnt I, mm. 17-18, cell c,Fantasy for Pianist, C. F. Peters Corporation.

It is perhaps the figure on the sketch identified as “spare, ornamented lines” (from Figure 1), which matches this cell more than any other would. The first half of the gesture is comparable to the rising spare shape, and the second half of the gesture could stand for the small florets decorating the stems. The fact that cell c begins with two notes bearing graphic notation for softer extended techniques, is a strong indication that the corresponding movement, or movement III will feature softer extended techniques.

4/ Before cell d begins, time signature changes again, from the 7/4 to 5/4 but only for one measure where the twenty-note figuration takes place, after which the time signature changes back to 4/4. This cell counts three measures, and the figuration it begins on, serves as a pick-up gesture to the greater cell.

The texture here is in two layers and heavily contrapuntal, due to contrasting gestures in both hands, and highlighted by rhythmic complexity and variety. Described as “whirring and destructive,” this cell offers extreme speed and extreme dynamics, and melodic gestures. Attacks are specific to each gesture, reminiscent of terraced dynamics. Softer dynamics otherwise bookend this cell in the example of cells b and c: pppp-ppp-cresc-sfz-pp-mp-pp-cresc-f-ppp-ff-pp. Three loud events decorate this cell with percussive gestures.

The pattern of whirring horizontal and fast tuplet rhythms in the treble registers, paired with percussive, loud and vertical gestures in the left hand later leads to similar textures in the fourth movement.

Recognizable row forms appear in this cell, and indicate the pitch material, which will be featured in the opening of the fourth movement. These row forms either complete the aggregate or swirl in repetitive gestures, and as they gradually change phases, they foreshadow the horizontal relentless ostinato of movement IV. This ostinato-hinting gesture is perhaps used as a creative alternative to melody, and the percussive base as an alternative to harmonic chordal accompaniment.

The rest of cell d is made of intervallic gestures, repeated note gestures, and repetitive patterns made up of various row forms.

Figure 9: Mvnt. I, mm. 19 and first half of 20, from cell d, Fantasy for Pianist, C. F. Peters Corporation.

There are other features from this cell, which return in the fourth movement, often by keeping their pitch content and changing registral definition and accompaniment. For example, the twenty-note gesture returns in its exact form in the second half of the fourth movement, this time with a B0 pedal point (mvnt. IV, mm.116-117), and the D7-D#6 descending pattern (mvnt. I, cell d, m. 19) returns to mark the end of the piece in an inverted low [D1-D#2] open chord (mvnt. IV, m.176). The note D is very significant in this piece, because it is the first pitch class of P0. When the piece ends on D, we are basically back “home.”

It is not just the appearance of the pitch D which becomes highly significant in marking structural points, but also the note C# as a leading tone to D, which for example bookends the development of the piece slightly after the beginning of the second movement, and more specifically in the second section which is in♩=168, and where a C#7 repeats 12 times (mvnt. II, mm. 9-13), probably as a fixed timing pitch-centric principle, and which also returns towards the end of the first half of the fourth movement, in five repetitions as C#1 (mvnt. IV, m.100).

This unique and complete exposition of the four cells a, b, c, and d is exclusive to movement I, as after it ends, these cells will never again reappear in their original shapes throughout the larger piece, with the exception of two excerpts from within them: a slightly varied version of the first measure of cell a returns as the opening measure of Reynolds’s first piano étude called “Barrage;” and the figuration of the 5/4 bar of cell d returns as a motivic pattern in the ostinato texture of the second half of the fourth movement.

Movement I is a quadruple-exposition, where four cells in one-part form each, succeed each other after short silences. This essentially complete set of four miniatures introduces the rest of the piece, where three of the cells become projected respectively in movements II, III, and IV, as they develop their characteristic principles, and often become interrupted by elements from other cells. It is within each of the movements II and III that principles from cells b, and c evolve, expand, transform and constantly develop, while being interrupted by principles from cell d. Cell d develops and evolves throughout movement IV simultaneously as this movement recapitulates principles from all the previous three movements. At a certain point, details are carried so far away from their original appearances in their respective cells, that we understand everything could very well be belonging to everything else. This illustrates what Reynolds states as the “sine qua non” of every composition, or what he refers to as “wholeness” in his theoretical writings.

As for cell a, which doesn’t have a movement of its own to develop within, it develops simultaneously as cells b, c, and d do all throughout the entire piece, and we can easily find traces, impressions and seeds from it everywhere in movements II, III, and IV. The coda, for example at the end of the fourth movement, and in particular the open chord it ends-lands on, or the dyad [D1-D#2] (mvnt. IV, m.176), is found not only throughout the score in various registers both in its original and inverted position, but seven times in the opening barrage (mvnt. I) as well in inverted position [D#-D]: five times as [D#4-D5], and once each as [D#5-D6] and [D#4-D5]. This principle of augmented octave and diminished octave is so prominent throughout the piece that it braids through the entire piece on D as well as transposed at other pitch levels.

Figure 10: Mvnt. IV, mm. 173-176, four penultimate measures of Coda Fantasy for Pianist, C. F. Peters Corporation.

While it is true that principles repeat in sometimes highly recognizable patterns, however, the ever-developing cells themselves never return to their original states, as they would if this were a classical sonata situation. Consequently, we do not “go home” after movements I, II, and III. At the end of each of the first three movements, we arrive at temporary locations within the progression of the larger piece: these locations offer connections between ends of movements and beginnings of other movements, but they do not necessarily offer final resolutions. These connections increase the cohesiveness among the movements, and provide for transitions. It seems that the entire piece or all of its four movements combined act as one movement, and more specifically the first movement of a sonata. Additionally, borrowed or otherwise unexpected and surprising principles constantly suggest new intrigue and suspense at the closing of movements II and III. The end of movement III suddenly switches to material belonging to the opening barrage of the first movement, as well as to material hinting at various principles of the upcoming ostinato figure of movement IV.

In a way then, no cell really ends developing at the end of a movement, and this is intentionally done so, in order to keep building the landscape that the larger piece will traverse by its very end. This technique is also responsible for tension to be continuous all throughout the piece, as each movement becomes interconnected and looking both backwards and forwards.

The fact that the seeds of each cell or the cells themselves do not return at the end of each movement, also brings this piece closer to a theatrical one, where characters develop in interaction with and among each other, and are transformed at the end of the play. This fact also suggests that the movements are not interchangeable in performance and the piece is meant to be performed as a single unit with all four movements. A fitting analogy from the visual arts would be that of a landscape presented in four consecutive and separate but inter-dependable canvases.

The aspect of development is also true in the case of short interludes, or the surprise interruption of material from the fourth movement for example midway in the second movement, or material from cell d at the end of the third movement. Perhaps the principle of interlude traces all the way back to cell a of the first movement, where gestures of short duration and in rhythmic contrast to the steady pace of the specific section, in this case the right hand 16th note barrage, interrupt the pace only momentarily so. The analysis of interludes, which probably originated in cell a, and which become a steady feature in movement IV, perfectly illustrates the definition of the word ‘metaphor’ which Reynolds references in an article, where he quotes lexicographer Eric Partridge: metapherein is Greek for “to transfer,” where pherin stands for “to carry,” and meta for “beyond.” Interludes in subsequent movements can also be explained in terms of dramaturgy, as characters appearing one last time and bowing before their exit.

This preliminary analysis of the cells shows that while the 12-tone row played a fundamental role in the foundational aspect of the piece, classical concepts such as repetition, hierarchy, development of motivic and rhythmic patterns, are guiding the evolution of the form.

It is important to note, that regardless of the presence of numerous interludes and interruptions, all throughout the piece and especially in movement IV, a fact due to the “1” being in the proportional design of movement IV (12:1:11), each movement strongly connects sections and sub-sections, either through the continuous flow of the tempo, or the motivic and rhythmic principles that are featured in them. Also, regardless of the many scenes inside each movement, the placement and characteristics of each movement remains crucial to the piece.

Following the first movement, which was discussed earlier to be a quadruple exposition, the second movement behaves like the scherzo movement in a sonata, the third movement is comparable to a slow movement which can be second or third in a sonata, and finally the last movement, which is a Presto, can be analyzed as a one-part form A//A’//Coda, with a Rondo within (row forms as refrains, and interludes as episodes).

Following the first movement, each of the remaining movements becomes a development of a specific cell: 2nd movement develops cell b, 3rd movement develops cell c, and 4th movement develops cell d. Recapitulation and “coda” or exit of motivic characteristics are scattered throughout movements II. III. And IV, the first in the form of principles appearing in a movement after its own, and the second mostly in the form of short, often single measure interludes where another condensation of principles is presented, with some characteristics remaining constant, such as time signature and rhythmic value, and some others having evolved beyond their initial stage, such as the duration of a cell, or the central pitch.

Movement II is generally periodic just as it was stated in the beginning notes. Spanning over 83 measures, it begins with a section marked at ♩=42, then accelerates to ♩=168,before abruptly going into ♩=180 and remaining there until the end of the movement. Within these three larger sections, numerous sub-sections succeed, either to develop the principles on hand, to intensify various material, or to present an explosion followed by echoes. Repeated notes, resonances, figurations and chordal patterns adorn this movement, which freely borrows the feature tempi of the fourth movement: ♩=168, and ♩=180.

In contrast, Movement III opens with a lyrical first statement of P2:

Figure 11: Mvnt. III, mm. 1-5 Fantasy for Pianist, C. F. Peters Corporation.

P2={E1, G4, G#7, F7, B1, A0, A#1, C3, F#7, D6, D#5, C#6}, or
P2={2, 5, 6, 3, 9, 7, 8, 10, 4, 0, 1, 11}

Beyond this perfect manifestation of the row, which uses extended techniques for ¼ of its pitches, the third movement proceeds with novel choices of melody-building. Instead of using the expected, meaning the row or row forms, it uses two-note melodies, four-note melodies, or longer melodies with relatively freer rhythms, while sometimes applying the principle of allowing some proportion of extended techniques to make up the pitch content of these melodies. For example, in a section following the opening, the third movement presents two-note melodies which are played over the resonance of a chord, followed by a four-note melody made up of the harmonics of low notes, followed by a figuration which counts eleven notes, followed by a few bars of chordal intensification, which leads to a two-hand chromatic cluster in the resonance of which an entire section begins, where a number of consecutive sequences present a single note extended technique each, complemented by a figuration which either precedes or immediately follows its resonance.

Changes in metronomic marking define the various sections, as the movement begins at ♩=69,and moves through ♩=60-48-60. The middle of the movement is marked by an appearance of a figure similar to the contents of cell c, only this time it is twice as long, and leads to melodious gestures where rhythm is less rigorous and resonances take priority. The third movement counts a total of 70 measures.

Movement IV is in two large sections: Section A, 103 measures long, in ¾ and ♩=168, interrupted by 6 interludes of varying time signatures and metronomic markings; Section A’, 60 measures total, in ♩=180, is interrupted by 2 interludes; coda counts 24 measures.

The interludes, which are basically mostly single measure surprise interjections with some exceptions (four single-measure interludes and two two-measure ones in section A; one single-measure and one eight measures long in A’), are interrupting textures, which abruptly appear with a different time signature and different metronomic marking than the ongoing ostinato. While their occurrence is unexpected, interludes usually present familiar time signatures and textures, or central pitches, as they bring back identifying behaviors from one of the four cells. These textures show transposed and condensed principles, and when the interlude is over, the ostinato resumes, except for two instances: the interlude which is located at the end of the first large section A, ends with a C#7 in sffz, which indicates some kind of a leading tone, and which leads to section A’ and a different ostinato; and the last interlude of A’ which leads to the coda.

It is not just the coda at the end of the fourth movement, which indicates that the movement and therefore the entire piece have come to an end, but a clear progression of “leading tones” which pitch-centric principles throughout the fourth movement, and more specifically within certain interludes. A semi-tone progression from B to C to C#, ties the piece together until the end of the coda is affirmed by the dyad [D1-D#2] augmented octave. From the second sub-section of A, where loud clusters begin (mvnt. IV, m.16), four repetitions of B7 grace notes accompanied by a sffz attack frame the first phrase. Further into the section A, the first interlude (mvnt. IV, m.29) repeats C1 four times, after which the fourth interlude (mvnt. IV, m. 100) repeats C#1 five times. This means that before section A’ begins, the leading tone has already been established and the piece is ready to end, therefore section A’ is basically a structural final ‘cadence.’

In this sense, the macro structure of the four movements then presents a (quasi) Sonata-Fantasy with the following scheme:

Movement I- Exposition (of cells a, b, c, and d)
Movements II and III- Development (of cells b, and c, respectively– and a simultaneously)
Movement IV- Development of cell d (and a simultaneously) and simultaneous Recapitulation, and Coda

The motivic and gestural patterns of movement IV are closely associated with two patterns from the sketch of twigs and vines in the snow, mainly the “sprays” and the “iterative patterns.” However, there are sections where other features from the remaining shapes interact as well.

Each of the sections of this movement presents either distinct row forms in ostinato in the treble registers, paired either with single note or chordal pedal-tones in the bass, or percussive cluster attacks, or atonal patterns of ostinato which could very well be two or more row forms, braided, and forming the chromatic aggregate with several repeated notes present among them.

The ostinato in the first section uses row forms P10 and I10, with a common beginning pitch, the C6. The importance of the principle of the pitch C is echoed in the bass, where the first note that occurs is a C1 with a sffz attack (mvnt. IV, m. 2). The game of the rows makes this opening and the entire movement in general, a very lively, playful, and expressive movement. The first interlude interrupts at the first sub-section, with a single bar in ♪=168 (mvnt. IV, m.29). This bar shares principles of periodicity and fixed octave timings with a specific section in the second movement, where previously the presence of twelve C#6s was observed (mvnt. II, mm. 9-13).

During the rest of the larger first section, and while the right hand continues the “whirring” of I10 and P10, the left hand “recapitulates” embellishments, resonances, silent and loud clusters, attack patterns, repeated notes, and pyramid chords from the rest of the piece: these elements act like secondary characters in a play, who are taking turns to bow and prepare for exit. After a total of six interludes and 103 bars total, the second larger section begins with ♩=180. It is not always clear here as to whether there is a distinct row form or whether the P9 and I5, which begin the section, start to phase out or whether the chromaticism is saturated with some braiding technique. Bass pedal-tones return and once again chordal patterns, resonance chords, and various features from previous movements are “recapitulated” before the music reinstates the main tempo of the second section and eventually dies away in one last whirring gesture mostly based on I5. While this gesture embodies numerous principles within cell d and the fourth movement itself, and as such is a fitting coda-afterthought, it also embodies characteristics of the opening barrage of the first movement, however here the principles have shifted a bit, and dynamically the section in pppp is in great contrast to the opening fff-ffff. The principle of explosion followed by endless echoes, a feature that is observed from the very first movement, is also what characterizes the bigger picture of the piece as a whole, in features such as the presentation of all four cells in the first movement (explosions), followed by the gradual metaphor and constant development of the seeds of each (echoes), or the use of dynamics, which open the first movement in fff (explosion), and close the fourth in pppp (echoes).

The concept of wholeness in Fantasy for Pianist operates both on the macro and micro levels. It is also responsible for creating a landscape where each movement plays an important role in the larger piece, and where the larger piece reveals a multi-dimensional architecture, which approaches a 12-tone row not just for serial and structural considerations, but also to establish variety and lyricism through atonal manifestations of row forms, and form through attributing tonal hierarchies to pitch classes of the original row. This approach, while only on the surface different from Schoenberg’s approach to serialism, is in reality as transcendental and innovative as Schoenberg’s: here we see a clear development of a new musical language, the Reynoldsian language, an essentially combinatorial utilization of the row, structural energy in both discipline and radicalism, and constant motivic development all throughout the piece.

Fantasy for Pianist thus becomes a revolutionary statement on modernism, and ultimately “a fantasy for the pianist – not a fantasy for the piano.”

The author wishes to express her gratitude to Roger Reynolds, Mark Menzies, Bryan R. Simms, and Brian Head, for their generous guidance in making this research possible.