Copyright © 2018 by Jordan Alexander Key

"Threnody on the Death of Children" was written shortly after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Florida this past February. Consequently, this work is inspired by recent and ongoing tragedies such as school shootings in the United States of America and the use of child soldiers in conflicts around the world as a by-product of global violence. While I cannot pretend to be able to truly empathize with the children and families directly impacted by gun violence, I feel a responsibility to speak out against these injustices with whatever means I possess. This piece is intended to be disconcerting and even ugly, attempting to evoke - in small part - the anxiety, hysteria, and terror of these unimaginably horrifying events witnessed and ultimately paid for by the most innocent in our society. 

 I. Precession of the Equinox

II. The Vision of Cataclysm: “The Song of the Sybil”

III. De Regressu ad Deorum: “The Final Consummation”

IV. Ekpyrosis: “The Great Conflagration”

V. Apocatastasis: “The Primordial Return”

This piece explores palindromic and isorhythmic structures as source material for programatic forms in music. Making reference to ancient sounds and techniques, such as palindrome, isorhythm, and the Dies Irae chant, this piece warps the old through a programatic language into a piece of modern contrapuntal and rhythmic complexity. Finding its original form as a piece for solo flute, this work evolved into a five movement piece for flute quartet and percussion, and was just recently remodeled into Key's first string quartet.

Written while in Winter residency at the Gethsemani Monastery in Kentucky, this is the first movement in a four movement choral cycle that is inspired by the four major Marian Antiphons. This piece uses the famous Salve Regina chant in a novel collage of melismatic writing for voice and piano. First performed by the College of Wooster Symphonic Choir in May 2013 for Wooster's Commencement Concert.

Discursus Anachronismus:
"Discursivities Against Time"

​Discursus Anachronismus is about the interplay of time, both literally and figuratively, utilizing various styles and forms simultaneously, creating a “discourse against time.” Jordan Key is not only a composer but also a musicologist and organist; consequently, he finds himself regularly pulled between the worlds of contemporary, Baroque, and early music, since his primary research focus and performance repertoire are music from the 14th/15th centuries and the early Baroque respectively. Discursus Anachronismus embraces all three of these worlds, drawing of styles from Jordan’s favorite composers and periods; this includes the composers Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300 – 13707), Zacara de Teramo (d. after 1413), Johannes Ciconia (1370 – 1412), Alexander Agricola (1457/58 – 1506), Johannes Mittner (died c. 1530), Johann Pachelbel (1653 – 1706), JS Bach (1685 – 1750), Bela Bartok (1881 – 1945), Olivier Messiaen (1908 – 1992), Conlon Nancarrow (11912 – 1997), and Peter Maxwell Davies (191934 – 2016).

1. Passacaglia Mensuras: "pater meus bac(c)h(us) est" (0:11)

2. Machaut, Mitter, Messiaen: "A Secret Labyrinth" (2:29)

3-4. Fantasia and Fugue: "Sumite Karissimi" (6:19)

Art Song: "The Doctrine You Desire"
for bass voice, piano, singing bowls, micro-tonal lap-harp, and magnetic tape.

The doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect,

dogma that alone provides wisdom,

does not exist.

Nor should you long

for a perfect doctrine....

Rather, you should long

for the perfection of yourself.

 

Truth reveals itself in enigma;

let us approach it with wonder and awe

as diviners of its mystery.

 I. Homophonie

II. Antiphonies

III. Monophonies

IV. Heterophonies

V. Cacophonies

VI. Polyphonies

-Phōnia is a woodwind quintet in six movements for Flute/Piccolo, Oboe, Horn in F, B-flat Clarinet, and Bassoon. "Phonia", referring to the Greek word for sound, is the root word for many identified musical textures. This piece creates a series of musical textures based on a collection of common musical "phonia." These phonia include Homophony, Antiphony, Monophony, Heterophony, Cacophony, and Polyphony.

Heterophony typically characterizes one musical line performed by a collective with slight variations in the line by each of the performers. Here, Heterophony is realized through variation of the musical line through temporal augmentation in a prolation canon.

Microtonal Piobaireachd on a 15-note scale
"Oran do beag madadh-ruadh"

Shrouded in myth and mystery, a tradition that has been passed from master to pupil for unknown centuries, piobaireachd (Scots Gaelic for “piping” and anglicized as “pibroch”) is the “classical music” of the Great Highland Bagpipe, originating sometime during the Middle Ages. Piobaireachd is the oldest and perhaps most austere of all the Scottish bagpiping genres, focusing on simple tone progressions with slight elaborations over a series of simple variations. Crucial to this style is tone and timbre, and thus highly refined and particular tunings were constructed around these pieces, generally emphasizing tuning by Pythagorean ratios, particularly focusing on the 7th and 11th, and 19th partials. This piece returns the modern Scottish bagpipe to these medieval traditions, retuning the instrument in unconventional ways, building a scale of 15 micro-tonal notes based on octave transpositions of the prime partials of the droning fundamental. Along with the 7th, 11th, and 15th partials, the scale of this piece incorporates all the prime partials from 2 to 31. This resulting piece is both Medieval in aesthetic and form, but modern in its expansion of Pythagorean tuning and extended techniques on the bagpipe, including unconventional droning, alternative fingerings, and multi-phonics.

 I. Precession of the Equinox: 

II. The Vision of Cataclysm: “The Song of the Sybil”

III. De Regressu ad Deorum: “The Final Consummation”

IV. Ekpyrosis: “The Great Conflagration”

V. Apocatastasis: “The Primordial Return”

This piece explores palindromic and isorhythmic structures as source material for programatic forms in music. Making reference to ancient sounds and techniques, such as palindrome, isorhythm, and the Dies Irae chant, this piece warps the old through a programatic language into a piece of modern contrapuntal and rhythmic complexity. Finding its original form as a piece for solo flute, this work evolved into a five movement piece for flute quartet and percussion, and was just recently remodeled into Key's first string quartet.

Art Song: "God Ourselves"
For Soprano, Piano, and fixed Media

Piece for soprano, piano, and tape. Written in collaboration with poet Karen Garry, this piece was commissioned by the Vancouver Art Song Lab and the Vancouver International Queer Arts Festival during the Summer of 2016.