Premiered April 1, 2019 [no, really!] Jimmy Bunch, violin Rahul Vanamali, marimba Hrisheek Ganesh, piano
The closed circle is pure is a flexible canon for three players and 1 or more bass instruments [the instrumentation is open to any instruments that can play it].
The title is a reference to the Kurtag piece from the Kafka Fragments ["Der begrentze Kreis ist rein"]. The piece differs in style from Kurtag, but plays also with canonic imitation as a symbol of a certain kind of exclusive purity. Probably somewhere in my mind was all the tribalism and anti-immigrant garbage going on in the US, Europe, India, etc. Kurtag's music [and Kafka's writings] were a kind of warning against all of that.
Harmonically / stylistically it owes more to Andriessen and Reich. But unlike most canons, the meter is constantly shifting [often pairing changing perfect against compound meters, and cross dividing the beat within]. About halfway through the piece, the players shift into a "canon at the unison" that probably comes subconsciously from the fact that I've been listening to a lot more jazz than I ever have, and that my ensemble was working on a concert where all of the piece come from monophonic sources. We were working on the "Dance of Fury for the Seven Trumpets" from Messiaen's Quartet for the end of time.