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Reflections on "Let There Be Light"


Composer Notes... Reflections for Carillon is an improvisatorial elaboration upon an unusual theme tune. A musical cipher on the four-word text, "Let there be light" [see music score, p. 5, bottom], was created and assigned to the lowest diatonic C-c octave of the carillon bells atop Storke Tower on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Those eight bells are equipped with separate clapper and ringer mechanisms, designed to sound the tune at ten minutes of each hour to mark the end of classroom hours. The text itself serves as an official motto for the University of California. In anticipation of the 1968 casting of the tower bells in Holland by Petit & Fritsen, the motto was translated into Latin as "Fiat lux" for inscription on the bourdon bell.

The enigmatic nature of the cipher's anomalous tune serves as a neutral hourly chime signal to measure campus activities. In contrast, Reflection's meditative musical threads unwind almost tentatively and in such a manner as to conjure fleetingly warm and impressionistic harmonies and tonalities, interwoven with fragments of the cipher's melodic phrases. The three notes of the word 'let' generate a brief introduction; the five pitches of 'there' become an antecedent phrase, which when combined with a free consequent phrase forms a period structure (abab'), repeated and varied two more times. The two notes assigned to 'be' generate a transition into a second antecedent-consequent phrase formed from the five pitches of 'light' (cdcd'), also repeated with variation. A brief arioso intervenes, shaped from the combined phrase structures of 'there' and 'light' - all the while suggesting hints of an operatic aria wafting on gentle breezes. The arioso is followed by a da capo restatement from beginning to end.

Reflections was composed in the latter 1990s and dedicated to Carl Zytowski, the author of the musical cipher and long serving faculty member and chairman of UCSB's Music Department.

Code: FFR
Errata: Score Errata

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