Saturn (study in white)

Instrumentation Piano solo

Timing 3’10”

Composed 2008

Commissioned by Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa

World Premiere June 30, 2008, H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia. Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, piano

Recorded by Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa on Cosmophony

Programme Notes

The name “Saturn” immediately conjures up images of the planet’s spectacular ring system, first identified over three hundred years ago. Now known to be comprised primarily of small chunks of water ice, Saturn’s seven distinct rings are labelled alphabetically by astronomers, from the innermost D Ring outward through the C, B, A, F, G, and E Rings. This labelling translates directly to a series of seven pitches, all of them white notes on the keyboard. Repeating this series up an octave, then up another octave, results in the 21-note set which (aside from a low cluster representing the mass of the planet itself) make up the entire pitch content of this short study. After a spacious, bell-like opening, the many tiny fragments whose reflected light we see merged into rings are represented by circling minimalist gestures combined with pedal effects, fanning outwards to close with a single particle.

Saturn (study in white) was commissioned by pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa as part of the piano suite Cosmophony.

PDF score excerpt

Saturn excerpt

Audio

Video

Saturn (study in white) performed by Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa

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