Two Studies from Hierosgamos: Seven Studies in Harmony and Resonance by Cindy Cox
for piano

V. Playful, but driven
VI. Fleeting

The hierosgamos is an ancient principle which reveals the ultimate wholeness concealed among pairs of apparent opposites. Literally "sacred marriage", this mysterious union involves a simultaneous moment of creation and dissolution between the self and the other, a coterminus spiritualization of matter and a materialization of spirit. In the language of alchemy, Carl Jung spoke of a "chemical wedding", where the "yang and yin" of things is purified back into an original unity.

In this large work for piano, I attempt to show how opposing characteristics and materials ultimately derive from a single source. Two seemingly contradictory properties of the piano are very important to me: first, the piano is a huge (horizontal) harp, with its strings under many tons of pressure and capable of incredibly powerful resonance. Second, the piano is essentially a percussion instrument, and not a sustaining instrument, as many eighteenth and nineteenth century composers tried to make it. Reconciling these two aspects led me to use the harmonic series and a predominately motoric and continuous percussive texture.

The etudes principally address the study of harmony and harmonic resonance. The overtone series (up to the sixteenth partial) and its inverse provide the pitch material. I further divide the piano’s eighty-eight keys into zones of eleven half-steps, and use these areas as secondary relationships throughout the work.

— C. C.    

[from program for August 31, 2007 concert]