Ciaccona 21 WW
Paul Davies - 1999

Ciaccona 21 plays with the idea of two recurring harmonic progressions in a constant battle for supremacy. Progression A is largely atonal, but one gets the impression throughout the ten sections of the piece that it is mostly defending itself against tonal progression B. Initially, A is presented in a straightforward chordal fashion using a regular rhythmic pattern. It is attacked sporadically by progression B's aggressively disjunct rhythms. As the piece progresses, A struggles to find new way of presenting itself (arpeggiation, fragmentation, short melodic units, etc) in the hopes of surviving this constant onslaught. It is only in the last section of the piece where a kind of reconciliation takes place in that both chordal sequences now convert into melodies (one of them a quote from pop literature) that accompany each other.

The number 21 refers to a 2-1 pattern that occurs in different guises throughout the piece. Progression A, for example, is based on a pitch sequence of one semitone followed by two semitones (an octatonic scale). The piece also employs a tempo matrix by which new tempi are created by subtracting one sixteenth duration, and later by adding two sixteenths.

Ciaccona 21 was written with the special artistry of Alan Thomas in mind, and it is to him that the work is gratefully dedicated.