Compose several constellations of sound and then allow the conductor to change the order of the constellations at each performance – a brilliant idea that is at the heart of Available Forms I and II. There is no fixed ‘through-line’; it is different at each performance.
I have been deeply influenced by this approach when I compose. I create small chunks of music or phrases that can be a few measures or many in length. After composing a certain amount of these chunks, I order them in a way that I think works. This approach is not much different from the Available Forms, other than the fact that the material is fixed: I do not have a preconceived notion of an overall arc or through-line.
I would like to try writing a piece someday where the conductor can choose an order of preference, but that would necessitate many performances to assume the desired effect of variation, as in the Available Forms. At the moment, I am not that optimistic.
Originally published in: “Earle Brown: From Motets to Mathematics” Contemporary Music Review, Volume 26, Issue 3 & 4 June 2007 , pages 371 – 375