“Crossings” is a study in pattern perception, chaotic interference, and magic.

The piece opens with two parts that start in distant registers (one very high, and one very low) and move closer until they intersect and eventually pass each other.

When the parts are far apart they can be heard as distinct entities, but as they get closer they begin to interfere with each other. Their crossing is moment of indecipherable “chaos” where the parts seem to lose their individuality without actually fusing together into a coherent whole.

The interference happens because the parts are skewed so they sound on alternating sixteenth notes. When the parts are far apart and you hear a sixteenth note in one part immediately followed by a sixteenth note in the other part, you are likely to perceive these notes as separate, unrelated events belonging to distinct patterns. But when the parts come close together, pairs of notes belonging to different parts begin to bind together into melodic fragments. That’s to say, the tendency to interpret two successive notes in close pitch range as a linear “melody” is stronger than our ability to parse alternating beats into their respective parts.

After the parts cross, they continue moving in their given directions, growing further apart and separating again into distinct entities. They then reverse direction and move towards each other for a second crossing.

In the second crossing a bit of “magic” is pulled off. Throughout the first crossing the parts had stuck to their given patterns, but during the second crossing, amidst the “chaos,” the parts covertly adopt a new melodic pattern. As they emerge from the chaos, moving apart from each other again, the new pattern can be heard with increasing clarity.

Eventually the parts reverse direction and move towards each other for a third crossing.  This third crossing is pure and free from magic – that’s to say, the parts stick with the second melodic pattern throughout. They move apart again, and then change direction once more, progressing towards a fourth and final crossing. During this fourth crossing, some magic is again carried out amidst the chaos, and the parts emerge playing the original melodic pattern once more.

The piece is technically a canon by inversion – the parts are mirror images of each other.  It will be included as Canon #70 in Rudi Seitz’s collection:

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