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Sebastian Currier
Flow (2012)
Flow (2012)

for chamber sextet, 15’

In evolutionary biology it was originally assumed that species evolve very gradually, like the physical landscape evolved. Mountains gradually formed over eons or continents drifted apart imperceptibly. It seemed logical that species were formed in a parallel way. But further discoveries pointed to a different pattern: long stretches of stasis followed by concentrated periods of intense, active change. This pattern is known as punctuated equilibrium. Since music unfolds in time and, in a more general sense, ideas within a piece “evolve,” this notion caught my attention as a way to put together music in time. It also engaged with one of the primary dialogues in music of the past half decade: minimalism versus, if you will, maximalism. The idea of punctuated equilibrium seemed to me like an invitation to combine these two points of view, which are often perceived as somehow antithetical. In my piece, stable, repetitive patterns are abruptly interrupted, leading to other stable patterns, and so on. This process defines the entire opening section. As the piece unfolds, however, this structure itself becomes looser. In the final section, the materials from the opening return, but this time, instead of abrupt interruptions ushering in each successive pattern, one pattern dove-tails with the next, each idea dissembled as the next gradually forms, hence the name of the piece, Flow.

— Sebastian Currier