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Toccata and Ground

Harpsichord and kacapi indung

Duration: 10 min.


Linda Burman-Hall commissioned this microtonal duet as part of a series of works pairing the European harpsichord with Asian long-board zithers. The boat-shaped kacapi indung is the foundation for chamber music in Sunda, West Java, Indonesia. An evening of Sundanese chamber music often consists of three different parts featuring different tuning systems and penta┬Čtonic modes, a journey recapitulated here in compressed form, with the different modes in this just intonation overlapping somewhat at the edges. A toccata is a European piece featuring fast, often repeated notes, here in the form of a progression of cells interlocking between the two representatives of their respective cultures. The slower Ground marries the European form of a repeating bass line and Baroque ornamentation with the ostinato variations inspired by those that accompany Sundanese classical song. This commission was funded by Porter College Distinguished Lecturer Fund and the Gamelan Research Fund at the University of California, Santa Cruz.