|Simeon ten Holt
Canto Ostinato (version for 2 pianos, duration 75')
The first performance of Canto Ostinato took place on April 25th 1979 in the Ruïnekerk in Bergen (Holland) and was realized using three pianos and an electronic organ. Other combinations are possible using keyboard-instruments. Canto can also be considered as a solo piece (keyboard two hands) with or without electronic resources. Canto stems from a traditional source, is tonal and makes use of functional harmony; it is built according to the laws of cause and effect (tension-release). Although all parts of Canto have their fixed positions in its progress and are not interchangeable without violating the melodic line, the internal logic and form, beginning and end do not have absolute meaning as boundaries of form. Time plays an important role in Canto. Although most bars or sections feature repeat signs and although the performer(s) decide(s) on the number of repeats, one cannot speak of repetition-as-such. Repetition in this case has as its goal to create a situation in which the musical object affirms its independence and can search for its most favorable position with respect to the light thrown on it, becoming transparent. Time becomes the space in which the musical object floats. The performers have a wide margin of contribution. They decide about dynamic contrast, duration (in detail as well as for the whole) about the use of opposing or non-opposing timbre-differentiations, whether or not to play passages in unison. Also about repetition and combination of bars and sections, depending on their place within the score. The performers also decide, depending on available time and physical effort, whether they will take turns or if there will be a pause. At the first performance which took about two hours a pause was held at number 88 in the score, a pause in which a prerecorded tape was played of the first sections (A, B and C) following number 88. The concert was resumed after 25 minutes (tape fade-out). A performance of Canto is more like a ritual than a concert. The piece 'is not in a hurry' and has in common with so called minimal music that one cannot speak of fixed duration. As stated the first performance lasted two hours but it could have easily been more or less. The main part of Canto is indicated by the bracketed systems in bolder type. For the right hand there are two systems on which alternatives (variants) have been notated. Likewise there is one alternative stave for the left hand. Supposing that the piece is performed by just one musician (e.g. a pianist), than he can diverge from the basis part via the given alternatives in order to create variety. Apart from these alternatives each bar or section of the basic part itself has the possibility for variation: by displacement of accents and dynamic contrasts. Some suggestions for these are given in the score by thinly drawn stems connecting notes within each group. A new episode begins at figure 88 in the score, a sort of interlude. Bars and sections are indicated now by letters (A, B, C etc. to I). This episode and the transposed section from figure 91 consists of a number of sections which are more or less small commentaries on the basic structure A. Through its constant return A forms a pivotal or rest point. The ordering of A and its satellite-sections as given in the score is, in a certain sense, relative. The symbol (indicates that in many cases one can either go back or forward in one's choice of sections and that, depending on the harmonies, certain sections can be combined. The variants notated as footnotes from figure 88 (for the left hand) function as a sort of 'wandering'part. They do not have to be present all the time - they can disappear and return - and they need not be fixed to the notated octave-register.
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