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Last Piece

by Don Robertson (1968)

     This was the last of the compositions that Don Robertson was composing while studying with Morton Feldman. Feldman helped him work through the difficulties and the orchestration of this piece. Don Robertson’s objective was to write a complex chamber work, composed according to the understanding that he had gained of the duochord, the four-note basis of negative music that he had discovered.
     “Last Piece” was composed in a manner that would limit as far as possible, consonant harmonic intervals. In doing that, he had to consider the amount of time that notes that were produced by particular instruments would remain in a reverberant concert-hall environment, or even in the memory of listeners, creating unwanted consonances.
     Robertson finally gave up on “Last Piece”, stating that he would need a computer to complete the composition of the work, to make it sound as he was intending it to sound. In the year 1968, finding a computer that would be at his disposal was not an easy proposition. He was also beginning to realize that creating negative music, based on the most discordant intervals in music, would not be his life’s mission.
     This was truly the “Last Piece”… the last piece of negative music that Don Robertson would compose.