Ruth Crawford Seeger

Study in Mixed Accents (1929)

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Performed by J. Bloch, this short (one minute, ten seconds), energetic, totally unique work is built of extremely long, snaking lines like a piano keyboard that extends into eternity. The notes are absolutely steady, broken only occasionally (and that silence is deafening, as the saying goes). The lines are accented with very jazz-like articulations and in fact seem to be precursors of the great Bebop improvisers who would appear two decades later.

There are no harmonies, only the lines in octaves, the work is strictly homophonic. There is one grand arc toward from the lower keyboard registers to the highest and then back down again (the notes of the line are in retrograde back to the beginning) and the work ends. This extreme approach may be contrasted with some of the composer's later "hetereophonic" works in which several unrelated events take place simultaneously. Ruth Crawford Seeger was a true original and many of her innovations were employed by other composers decades later.