Fingerprints is a piano piece in which the continuity or discontinuity of musical time is subject to exploration. Seven fragments of unequal length, most subdivided into shorter segments, may be combined according to three different aspects:
Linearity (strict continuity without repeats).
Circularity (interlocked continuity with repeats, nested structures and omissions).
Discontinuity (scrambled "continuity" with repeats, nested structures, omissions, and 'erratic' leaps)
For each category I developed a set of rules serving as a guideline for the elaboration of the piece:
The seven fragments appear in the order given below:
2. Moderately slow
6. Very slow
7. Rather slow
The individual fragments can be combined or separated by attaccas, fermatas or pauses, whose lengths have to be determined by the performer.
The fragments should be interlocked in line with the following rules:
A fragment may be repeated as often as desired.
A fragment does not need to be played in its entirety, nor does it need to be played at all.
The segments within fragments may be repeated or omitted according to specific signs:
Global jump-from mark:
The performer may stop here and end the piece, or jump to an external global, or internal global or local jump-from mark.
Global jump-to mark:
The performer may start the piece here or continue from an internal local or external global jump-from mark.
Local jump-from mark:
The performer may jump to an internal local or global jump-to mark, thus creating repeats or omissions.
Local jump-to mark:
The performer may continue from an internal local or global jump-from mark.
(Internal = belonging to the same fragment, external = belonging to a different fragment.)
The performer may begin with any fragment, but should keep the order specified under A in a circular fashion. That is, starting with fragment 6, s/he should continue with fragments 7, then 1 and 2, etc.
The circular version should be approximately one and a half time as long as the linear version.
In this category, only global jump marks exist, i.e. local jump marks ought to be treated as global marks and the performer can skip to any segment in the piece once s/he reached a jump mark. The form of this version should merely be reminiscent of the circular version.
Fingerprints consists of 2 unrelated scale types:
the chromatic scale (in Mysterious, Fast and partially in Rhythmic and Rather slow), and
the whole tone-whole tone-whole tone-whole tone-half tone-mode that repeats itself after three octaves (in Moderately slow, Very slow, Rhythmic, Rather slow, and Moderately). The performer should take the nature of the harmonic/melodic material into consideration when connecting fragments and segments (in accordance with the principles of maximal contrast or maximal similarity).
The discontinuous version should be approximately twice as long as the linear version.
Berkeley, October 21, 1993