By Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte
Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte. All rights reserved.

Chapter VII


Biography and Background of the Composer

Bret Battey was born and raised in Snoqualmie, Washington. He started playing the organ at the age of eight, and continued to play through high school, along with some French Horn and jazz piano. He became interested in computer programming early in high school, and got his hands on a small analog synthesizer there as well. After high school, he attended the Oberlin Conservatory, where his interests became focused on electronic music. He went on to receive undergraduate degrees in Electronic and Computer Music from Oberlin Conservatory and a Masters of Music in Music Composition from the University of Washington. Since then, Battey has been honored in many ways. He has been awarded both the Davis and Brechemin Fellowships from the University of Washington, as well as a Development Grant from 911 Media Arts Center in Seattle. He currently is studying Indian classical music in India, as a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship.

Battey's works have been presented in diverse venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the Korean Electroacoustic Music Society Festival, the Bourges Synthese Festival, the Hungarian Radio Summer Meeting of Electroacoustic Music, the International Computer Music Conference, MTV Europe, and Sonic Circuits. He has received recognition from the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States and Prix Arts Electronic.

Battey has stated as areas of interest such diverse subjects as real-time, interactive, algorithmic music systems, complexity arising out of simplicity: feedback and chaos, cybernetics and systems theory, depth psychology, image and sound integration, magical realist fiction, nontraditional narration, and Indian classical music.

Battey has also worked in Manhattan at the Philip Glass production studio and Studio PASS, a non-profit studio for sound artists. He has also had professional experience as a graphic designer, web master, and software systems tester and analyst. His current associations include membership in the International Computer Music Association, SEAMUS, and Northwest Cyberarts. His teachers in composition and technology have included Conrad Cummings, Richard Karpen, Gary Nelson, and Diane Thome. He is currently a Fulbright Scholar in India, toward completion of a PhD in Composition from the University of Washington


Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion is, in many ways, written in a manner that is close to conventional flute repertoire in its notation, sounds, and even form. With a duration of 7'50", it is a very approachable, appealing piece, and has an air of simplicity, energy, and light-heartedness. The seeming simplicity becomes increasingly complicated though, upon a more careful inspection of the rhythmic and pitch materials, as well as the relationship between the flute and computer parts. In an interview, Battey stated: "...one learns that simplicity and clarity are very difficult to achieve; that they require great discipline and strong instincts. In seeking them one can transform the obscure into the lucid and reveal the poverty of the shallowly complex. I bring that critical perspective to bear on the 'high arts,' where I think that obscurantism is too often wielded as a substitute for depth." [79]  The pitch and rhythmic materials are derived from a simple number set, and then carefully manipulated and controlled, layered and texturized, to create a great deal of variety, while maintaining a strong unity due to the conciseness of the root material.

The computer sounds are comprised almost entirely of MIDI synthesizers and computer-controlled acoustic piano, with additional percussive affects and microtonal washes. The flute part is notated conventionally, with a traditional meter, barlines, and even conventional beaming of groups of notes. Therefore, there is no need for time to be notated on the score in minutes and seconds, as is done with much electroacoustic music.

Some electroacoustic works require the use of a stopwatch or some other external means of keeping time, but this is not necessary with Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion. Even the sound leans toward the conventional flute and piano combination, which forms much of the flute literature. The tempo throughout the piece is constant, most of the formal aspects being defined by changes in texture and note values. Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion is a highly energetic work, with a preponderance of high and fast passages, driving rhythms, and virtuosic display. This is a piece that I myself commissioned in 1997, and Battey's beginnings of the piece came after we got together, discussed musical approaches, and I did some playing of various works. Battey spoke of writing this with me in mind, "Inspired by her energetic personality and command over fast passage-work, I wrote a virtuosic display-piece emphasizing driving, syncopated rhythms." [80


For the performer, it can be convenient and helpful to see the piece as divided into three sections. The first section is comprised of measures 1 — 54 (the first two pages of the flute score), the second section 55 — 112 (pages three and four of the flute score), and

113 — end (the last page of the flute score). The best support for these choices is that the end of each of these sections clearly ends the phrase or the current material, there is silence in the flute part, followed by a quiet entrance of new material. It may be coincidental that the page turns match these delineations, or simply that the flutist is most able to turn a page when not playing, or that Battey intended the sections to be apparent to the flutist. In any case, it is a point of convenience and organization to divide the piece in this manner. Once done, though, the three sections become reminiscent of the traditional Sonata-Allegro form. The first section presents the material, within which we find three distinct themes. The second section uses this material, develops it, expands it, and is a time of instability, growth, and change. The third section very clearly begins with the opening material, restates much of the original, previously stated material, and does not develop new material.

The piece begins with an introductory measure in the computer, which from the outset presents the primary number set from which much of the material for the piece is derived. The first theme is comprised of thickly textured, layered 32nd and 16th notes, with complex interweaving rhythms between the flute and three tracks of piano sounds. The lines alternate moving down for a phrase, up for the next, and continue to turn around. The second theme begins at A (measure 20), where the dynamic is brought down to a piano and the notes become longer, the texture is thinned to one tape track (gradually to be built back up again), and the feeling is looser and calmer. This all builds up to rehearsal letter B (measure 28), where the first theme returns. This continues until a sudden change at C (measure 35), where the texture is again severely reduced, and the flute has a strong, declamatory solo over a sparse, yet accented tape part. The tape tracks are synchronized with the flute, with accents emphasizing their unity, whereas up until now, there was a great deal of independence. This section ends with a measure of complete silence in both parts.

This silence marks the transition to the second of the three sections of the piece. Section 2 begins at E (measure 56) and is the quietest section of the piece, at pp. Like the beginning, the computer begins and the flute joins shortly. The moment in which the flute joins the computer is one of the very difficult moments of synchronization between the flute and computer. Measure 58 (three measures after E) is silent, after which the flute and computer need to begin exactly together. When they do enter, we experience a series of gentle swells, bringing the dynamic up and back down again, the flute's long, unaccented notes floating over the gentle points in the computer part. At F (measure 66) the notes become faster again, starting out quietly and delicately. The tape part is somewhat denser here, but still mostly accents the flute melody. Gradually, the tape part becomes increasingly independent (especially Tape 2), the flute part has wider and wider leaps, and the dynamic increases steadily until the ff is reached and held for measures 75 — 77. At G (measure 78) the tape part yet again drops down to a single track, and the flute dives down into the low register for the first time in the piece. Here the notes are very quick and the wide leaps continue in the flute, over a backdrop of somewhat sparse and hard-to-predict computer iterations, and both the flute and tape parts are at a loud dynamic.

The flute over a single track continues in one of the most virtuosic and difficult moments of the pieces all the way until H (measure 86). This is the only moment in the piece in which the flute plays with no tape present at all, and this isolated texture is quite striking. It also seems to serve as a bridge to the following material where we begin our lengthy drive toward the climax of the piece. Measure 87 contains flute and one tape track, the following measure the same with the addition of three tracks of percussion sounds, the measure after that adds a Tape 2 track, and the next measure (measure 90) adds a track of taped flute doubling the trills of the live flute (but at almost one octave lower). Measure 92 adds yet two more tracks of tape, but does not include the Tape 1 and 2 parts, the tape flute, or the percussion. Measure 93 reverses this exactly, and finally in Measure 94, the entire family of taped sounds is present at a fff dynamic. This is a false climax, however; the following measure has a sudden drop back to slower notes and about half of the number of parts. Again it builds in the same additive manner, until it reaches the largest number of voices of the piece at J (measure 98). Here the dynamic is marked ffff and there are a total of five tape tracks and three percussion tracks. The flutist is playing tremolo notes with each increase in dynamics and speed for their duration, and the Tape 1 and 2 parts have no rests in them at all. In measures 100 — 103 the tape parts have increasingly large leaps, the flute adds flutter tongue and shrieks the highest register notes, and the fullest, thickest texture of the piece is heard. This climax fulfills itself at measure 104, with a sudden, single unison note in all parts, with the flute on its highest note of the piece (a fourth register D#, followed by a silence of almost three beats. The note is uttered yet again on the downbeat of the next measure, again followed by silence. Once more, the unison is hit on the downbeat, this time followed by a long note in the computer, and then one last iteration of the note in the flute before picking the material back up where it left of before the highest note. The parts all re-enter at K (measure 107) and the next few measures take the speed, dynamics, intervallic leaps, and texture down, to dwindle away toward the end of the phrase and section in measure 112.

Although there isn't a moment of complete silence between sections as there was between Section 1 and 2, the end of the phrase here is utterly clear, and a turn toward calmer, more familiar material is welcomed. At L (measure 114), the flute is low and quieter, and the material is almost exactly that of letter A. In the computer part, the opening material of the piece is heard as it is added bit by bit, and at letter M (measure 121) it can be argued that the Recapitulation begins. The flute and computer both are restating the opening theme of the piece, on most of the same pitches. The flute adds on additional material (speaking alongside the voice of Tape 5) but essentially is restating the opening material. Only the opening theme is restated in the flute, and the secondary theme (the material at letter A) is performed by the Tape 2 part. The next rehearsal letter, N, acts as a codetta, restating much of the material with which by now the listener is very familiar, bringing the piece to an upbeat, energetic, and playful close.

After focusing on the movement through the piece, the changing textures, and the repetition of pitch and rhythmic materials, it seems fair to break the piece down into these three sections. In many ways, as has been seen in countless works of music as well as the other arts, it is natural for material to be introduced, then for events to become unstable, exciting, and ridden with conflict, only to be resolved in the end. It is a classic form, with an expressive intent that has been understood and adored throughout music history.


In a lecture given to the music composition students of the University of Washington, Bret Battey discussed his use of a numeric set of his choosing. [81]  This set is the numbers [4 3 4 5]. This set is used to describe both pitch and rhythmic materials, and through rotation of the set achieves variety. The set is used in its original form along with three rotations, and in almost every measure of the piece, one or more forms of the set are present. These four forms are: Set 1 = [4 3 4 5], Set 2 = [3 4 3 2], Set 3 = [3 4 5 4], and Set 4 = [5 4 3 4]. Conveniently, the numbers add up to 16. The meter of the piece is 16/16, denoting the 16th note as the unit of rhythmic measurement. The pitch sets describe the rhythm of the measure, since one set used to determine rhythm will last for a measure (sixteen sixteenth notes). Quite often one rotation will be used in one tape part while simultaneously a different rotation is used in another tape part, or in the flute part; also, a numeric set will be reinforced in one or more of the computer parts through accenting or texture.

The numeric sets are also subdivided at times, into either one or two 32nd notes, or into one or two 16th notes. For example, for a numeric set of [4 3 4 5], the subdivisions are sometimes [22 12 1111 122] and at other times [112 111 121 122]. The subdivisions apply usually to the rhythm, but are also used to determine pitch, or more precisely intervals, in certain situations. A 1 represents a semitone change and 2 represents a whole step change. Battey will determine the direction of the interval by continuing in one direction until the rotation of the original numeric set is completed (that is, one measure), and then change direction. The subdivisions into 1's and 2's are applied variously to 32nd notes and 16th notes; in this way, the original numeric set can be descriptive of either 16th notes or 32nd notes. There are five sets of subdivisions, which I have named as follows: Sub1 = [22 12 1111 122], Sub2 = [121 122 112 111], Sub3 = [112 111 121 122], Sub4 = [12 1111 122 22], and Sub5 = [1111 122 22 12]. The sets Sub1 and Sub3 are derived from the first numeric set [4 3 4 5], and the sets Sub2, Sub4, and Sub5 are derived from the second numeric set [4 5 4 3]. This means that there aren't predetermined subsets for the remaining two numeric sets. It is clear, then, that when a predetermined subdivision is used, that a numeric set is necessarily also being utilized. The naming is done only for ease in identifying the patterns as they are revealed in the piece.

The opening of the piece begins with three tracks of Tape. The first track, Tape 1, contains the numeric sets [4 3 4 5] and [4 5 4 3], to organize the 32nd notes. The first set (the first half of the measure), it is subdivided into [22 12 1111 122], which is Sub1, and the second into [121 122 112 111], which is Sub2. This means that the first and second notes are 16th notes, the third is a 32nd note, the fourth is a 16th, the fifth through ninth are 32nd notes, and the last two are 16th notes. The Tape 1 part in the first measure uses Set 1, Set 2, Sub1, and Sub2. In measure 2, the 32nd notes are gone, and the 16th notes now act as the point of quantization. Set 1 is used to group the 16th notes, and Sub1 to determine the duration of the notes as defined by a 32nd note. Underneath this, in the Tape 2 part, the divisions mimic that of Tape 1, measure 1: the first half of the measure if Sub1, the second half is Sub2. Still in measure 2, the Tape 3 part uses Set 2, with Sub2 to determine the rhythm. The flute part enters in that measure, and the rhythm in the first half of the measure is derived from Sub1. The following measure can be dissected as follows: the flute rhythms in the first half of the measure fall into the Sub3 designation, the Tape 1 part is Set 2, the Tape 2 part is Set 1, and the Tape 3 part is a Sub1 followed by a Sub2. Since the subdivisions are derived from the original numeric sets, then the Sub1 and Sub2 parts closely relate to the Set 1 and Set 2 groups used, making the entire measure tightly unified rhythmically. This highly controlled and careful use and repetition of the numeric sets continues throughout this first theme, and suffice it to say every measure contains Set 1 and Set 2, most often in the computer part, and frequently Sub1 and Sub2, in both the computer and flute parts.

The interest in these numeric sets lies not so much in analyzing every measure to uncover all the occurrences of each set. Rather, it becomes clear how the materials are related to each other, how the separate sections of the piece are unified, and in what different manners can such a limited number of pitch sets be used. At A (measure 20), the flute presents a new theme, which is quite significantly different from the previous material. The texture here is much more sparse (flute and basically one tape track to begin), the notes move much more slowly, the driving rhythmic pulse is replaced by one that is unaccented, unpulsed, and unpredictable. The pitch set used in measure 20 is Set 3, the first occurrence of this in the piece. The following measure uses Set 4, also the first time is it heard. Measure 22 is derived from Set 1, but throughout this subsection, is the only measure in which the flute is not using Set 3 or 4. So, in the first subsection (measures 1 — 19), Sets 1 and 2 are the primary tools, both in their literal use and in the subdivision usage. In the second subsection, the numeric sets used are Sets 3 and 4. The basic building blocks of the piece have now all been introduced, and it is for the remainder of the piece that the manipulation and development of these ideas is to be seen. It is also the first time that irrational numbers are used: in the Tape 4 part, the rhythms are described as 4:3, 3:4, 3:5, referring to four 16th notes in the space of three, and so on. The "pulse" is heard as matching that of the flute, a [3 4 5 4] numeric set, but the subdivisions are irrational, and do not subdivide into even 32nd notes. This motive appears in each measure of this subsection. Later, this motive reappears, linking later sections with this section.

Returning to the opening material, rehearsal letter B (measure 28) restates the opening material slightly varied, but still using Sets 1 and 2 and Sub1 and Sub2. The flute has a slightly different rhythm, but the pitches used are essentially the same as the opening. The flutter tongued motive in the flute part (measure 33) uses Set 1 material as well. The texture here is quite dense, and Battey uses this to introduce a new motive, which will become important soon, in a subtle manner. This occurs in measure 32, in which the Tape 4 part begins a slightly more sparse, accented and more rhythmic motive. This motive, although more separated and less dense than the original material is derived again from Set 1. This subsection ends as rehearsal letter C, where the computer part has two measures of introduction into the new theme in the flute.

It is this new theme in the flute that was heard a few measures earlier, obscured by the density of the layered tape part. Now, instead of a continuous flow of notes and frequent use of 32nd notes, the same Set 1 pattern is used in a rhythmic, articulated, and cleaner line. There are many rests separating notes, and many accents outlining the numeric sets. This part is significant in that it is the first time that many leaps are used, as opposed to the mainly stepwise motion in the material before C. The leaps become a vital part of the second section of the piece, and are an important part of what makes the middle section less stable and more distinct from the outside sections. The melody that the flute introduces at C is taken up by Tape 1 in measure 45; the flute then accompanies the melody with the motive introduced at letter A. As we become more familiar with the weaving of the various numeric sets, we begin to understand that not only does the repetition of the sets create unity, but also makes simultaneous performance of the different motives easily executed. The motives are able to retain their character even amidst the high level of diverse activity, precisely because of this unifying element.

The first section of the piece is ended by breaking up the rhythmic patterns with rests, gradually moving toward the silence in measure 55.

A new melodic motive is introduced at the beginning of Section 5 by the flute (measure 59), accompanied by two tracks of tape. In fact, in the flute part, all of the material in Section 2 is new compared with the material from Section 1, if taken in a very direct sense. Rhythmically, though, it is very closely related to the previous material. The groupings in measure 59 correspond to Set 2 [4 5 4 3] in both the flute, Tape1, and Tape 4 parts. All of the parts are synchronized with each other beginning here, through measure 74; in measure 75, one of the tape parts becomes unsynchronized. From rehearsal letter E (measure 56) through letter F (measure 66), Sets 2, 3, and 4 are used, alternating measures. At F, the emphasis switches to Sets 1 and 2. In both of these short sections, the flute and tape parts always use the same set simultaneously. For the two measures before G (measures 75 — 76), the Tape 1 part is out of sync with the other three parts; this is only a temporary condition, which ends at H (measure 86). The texture from G to H is thin, only a flute line and Tape 1 line. Throughout all of the synchronized material, the synchronization is maintained not by having unison rhythms, but rather by accenting notes at the same time, and usually also by having one track of the tape be silent except to accent the rhythmically important notes. The sets used between G and H are also Sets 1 and 2.

Rehearsal letter H marks the beginning of the build to the climax. After a great deal of synchronization (virtually entirely synchronized since measure 35), finally here the parts begin to diverge. The 2nd and 3rd tape percussion parts are out of sync with the flute, Tape 2, and TapePerc1 parts, and are also out of sync with each other. In measure 89, the flute, Tape 1, and Tape 2 parts are in sync, while all three of the percussion parts are out of sync with those as well as with each other. In the following measure, the Tape 2 part also goes out of sync. By measure 93, none of the parts are in sync with the flute except the Tape Flute part (which is in perfect rhythmic unison), and in measure 95, nothing is in sync with the flute. Measure 95 provides a respite from this; the texture is dropped down to only four total parts, and everything is perfectly synchronized. As the music moves toward the climax, the texture gets more dense and the accents in each of the parts becomes more frequent and less synchronized with the other parts. In order to counterbalance this increasing complexity, the Tape 4 and 5 parts are silent except to accent the notes that are accented in the flute part, adding strong emphasis to these patterns. While these parts seem to be especially emphasized, it's interesting that the groupings here do not correspond to any of the predetermined sets. In fact, the groupings are quite irregular, containing sometimes four and a half sixteenth notes followed by four sixteenth notes, followed by three, then two and a half. The meter changes at measure 101 to 14/16 time, making the predetermined sets impossible. This is an effective tool in creating the most intense, unpredictable, unstable few moments in the piece. Battey so strongly and effectively established his language of rhythmic motives that when finally it diverges from this, the effect is profound.

This leads to the highlight of the piece, measure 104, in which all of the nine parts hit the downbeat together at a fff dynamic, and then are silent for the rest of this 3/4 measure. The downbeat of the next measure is also written in this manner. The fact of there being three beats in the measure is important, because not only is that first silence shocking, but the next entrance is a surprise because there has never been a measure of this length in the piece, or any kind of rhythmic division into three quarter notes. The length of the silence is unpredictable. The next measure is 2/4, and the following in 4/4; Battey is clearly keeping the entrances unpredictable. The entrances happen to also be unpredictable to the flutist, and it's only with a great deal of practice and sensitivity that this synchronization after the silence will be successful.

Measure 107, K, marks the beginning of the anticlimax. At this measure, the high level of intensity before the silence is resumed, with all of the rhythmic complexity and dense textures and loud dynamics. Bit by bit, the parts are thinned out, to finally close the section just before L.

This is where it could be said that the recapitulation begins, although not in the truest classical sense, only in the sense of returning to opening material, and especially familiar material. Measure 114 begins with the same theme as seen at letter A, letter M (measure 121) brings back the opening motive, and the rhythmic and melodic motives are returned to and restated to bring the piece to a close. There are no new rhythmic developments, although the combinations are sometimes different. For example, at rehearsal letter N (measure 129), the theme in the flute is the same as that at letter F, but this time is not accompanied by the material found initially at letter D, but is instead accompanied by the material initially found at letter A.

In the end, rhythmically, there is an enormous amount of repetition, and the piece has a continuous energetic feel throughout, much of this propelled by the uneven, accented rhythms present. The raw rhythmic material and the numeric sets, account for most of the rhythm in the piece, yet within this small confines, a great deal of variety and complexity is found. There seems to be the sense that the recurrence of the numeric set is connected with an expressive quality; that is, even when the set is varied or rotated, the style and essence remains constant. This is what is responsible for such a great feeling of rhythmic unity.

One last note about the rhythm and meter of this piece. Because the piece is written in 16/16 meter, it can be understood also in the conventional 4/4 time. Indeed, in learning the piece, this can greatly facilitate understanding and execution. Ideally, though, after the material has been well learned, the rhythmic pulse is best performed with emphasis on the beginnings of the rhythmic groupings. The result is a meter that is uneven throughout the bar (there are only two measures in the piece where the metric divisions are actually in 4/4), and that the beats change from one bar to the next.

Pitch / Intervals

As mentioned before, some of the pitches are also derived from the numeric sets, but not nearly as thoroughly as the rhythmic patterns. In general, there are repeated melodic motives, which can be called themes. These motives are usually derived from the numeric sets, and in a subtle way bear an aural relationship to the corresponding rhythms. There are three themes that appear in the computer part that are never heard in the flute part; these are found in the first two measures of the piece. The first is in the Tape 1 part of measure 1: the quantization point is the 32nd note, and the first half of the measure is derived from Sub1, the second half from Sub2. In the following measure, the 16th note becomes our unit of measure, and the measure fits into the Set 1 class; it has a [4 3 4 5] numeric set. The third is found first in the Tape 3 part in the second measure, and is derived from the Set 2 numeric set. This we already know, but what hasn't been explored yet is how do the pitch materials relate. The first computer theme returns often in one or more of the tape parts, and each time has the same contour, although often does not start on the same note. This can be seen in Tape 2, measure 2, and in Tape 3, measure 3, and in Tape 1, measure 4, and on in this manner. Each of these times it begins on a different note than has been used before, but retains the contour, and of course the rhythm, of the original statement. All of the themes undergo this same kind of treatment, although some of them are more connected with a specific pitch than others.

For example, the opening flute line begins on a third register Bb, and consists of a stepwise descending line down just beyond an octave. This same motive returns three times more in the piece; two of those three times it contains exactly the same pitches, and the last time it is raised a whole step. The computer never has this theme; both the computer and the flute part have independent themes that the other does not share. This melodic motive is significant in another way: the choice of pitches is determined also through numeric sets. The numeric set used to determine its rhythm is Sub1 [22 12 1111 122]; this is also used to determine pitches. The first note is a third register Bb, and is followed by an Ab — a whole step downward. This whole step corresponds to the first number 2 in the numeric set. The next interval is a half step downward, to a G — corresponding to the 1 in the set. The numbers attached to each pitch define how far away from the previous note it is; therefore, the first note of the set will not affect intervallic motion. The next note is an F, corresponding to the 2, and the following five notes all move downward by half steps, followed by two whole steps, all in agreement with the set. So, the most distinctive melodic motive in the piece is tightly connected to the rhythmic motion. The direction of the melodic contours is often alternated. In looking at measure 2, the first half follows the numeric set, but the second half does not. The beginning of measure 3 has a numeric set of Sub3, and this time moves upward. After this, much of the melodic material in this first section comprise variations on this general pattern, although not dependent on the numeric sets.

The second melodic theme found in the flute part begins at A (measure 20). This one also does not correspond to a numeric set. This motive consists of longer notes with unaccented, uneven rhythms, moving upwards in a stepwise motion. This theme is slower, legato, and moves consistently upward, providing a nice contrast to the fast, accented, energetic, and variously slurred opening flute theme. This second theme also returns often, in various guises. The first recurrence happens in the flute and Tape 3 part of measure 45, on an F (as it occurs initially), this time accompanied by a staccato, rhythmic, accented line, as opposed to the less defined, softer line of the original occurrence. The second theme returns again at the beginning of the second section, at letter E (measure 56), and serves as an important connecting device between the first and second sections. It begins on an F again, but is this time very light, quiet, staccato and sparse. It doesn't occur again until after the second section of the piece has ended, at L (measure 114). Again, it begins on F, this time an octave lower. The last occurrence is at N (measure 129), in the Tape 2 part, this time beginning on Bb, and accompanies the very energetic flute melody. While serving to create unity, it also presents itself with a different character this time; it is loud and accented.

Another important melodic motive occurs at two measures after C (measure 37). The rhythmic pattern is Set 1 [4 3 4 5], but the pitches are not related to the numeric sets. At measure 45, the flute trades melodies with the computer: the Tape 1 part takes over the third melodic theme, while the flute reiterates the second melodic theme. The third theme is experienced again at letter F (measure 66) in the Tape 2 part, accompanying a new theme in the flute. The two themes are connected by a rhythmic pattern; they both use Set 1 [4 3 4 5], so the accents fall in sync. This new theme is too different from the other to be considered a derivation, but they do hold much in common. The third theme returns in part at two measures before M (measure 119) in the Tape 1 part, and again at M (measure 121) in the Tape 4 part. The fourth melodic motive occurs first at F (measure 66), and returns at G (measure 77) in the flute part, slightly varied, as well as at N (measure 129), again slightly varied.

In looking at the melodic motives as a whole, the motives seem to be varied only a moderate amount, retaining their original sound, and seem to recur in clear and functional places, to either bridge sections or lend familiarity to complex sections. The motives are in part derived from or related to the numeric sets that saturate the rhythmic material. Also, the melodies retain their original pitches for the most part. Further, there is a conscientious use of stepwise and leaping motion, again to help to distinguish the motives from each other. The first and second themes contain mostly stepwise motion, while the others all contain many large leaps.

Register / Range

Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion utilizes the entire range of the flute, from a first register Db (just above middle C), to a fourth register D#. Register is one tool by which Battey distinguishes one section or motive from another. The first theme (from the beginning until A), is primarily in the highest register, and when it returns at B and at M, is in the same register. The second theme (from A until B), is placed in the middle register, with some movement toward the highest register. The third theme (from C until E) is again in the middle register. Since the second theme joins the third theme in the middle, the sharing of register aids in the combining of the material. So, in the first section of the piece, register is one device that is used to separate the sections, and alternates from middle to high register to make the divisions clear.

During the second section, which is more developmental and unstable in nature, the range is greater and the usage less distinct. At E, the middle and top register are used, and from F to G, the motion gradually moves upward to reach a fourth register C just before rehearsal letter G. At G, the music takes a dive down to the lowest notes of the piece. This register is emphasized by its position after the highest notes and by accenting the lowest notes of the contour. Three measures before rehearsal letter H, it begins to build upward, up to the highest register, and just before H plummets back down again. For the two measures after H, there are still some notes in the lowest range, but quickly the music moves out of this range as it begins to move toward the climax. From this point until the highest notes just before rehearsal letter K, the range is consistently in the high register, clearly using the flute's ability to play loudly in this register to help move toward the climax. In measures 101 — 103, the highest notes are framed by notes more than an octave lower, as well as being emphasized by flutter tonguing, accents, and trills. Clearly, register plays a very important part in the climax; it is precisely the extreme altitude of the high D#, along with the framing by silence and the dynamics, that makes these notes so exciting. After reaching this pinnacle, the range gradually moves downward toward the end of this section, ultimately landing in the lowest register.

The last section begins quite low, first register F, and, in restating the material from the first section, it also restates the registers used. This means that when returning to the material of the first theme, it's in the highest register, and when returning to the second and third themes, is in the middle to high register. The piece ends with a reiteration of the flute's opening line, this time a whole step higher. The range throughout the piece is an integral part of the form, emphasizing and distinguishing sections as well as helping to build or to relax material as an expressive musical device.


As has already been seen, dynamic are carefully controlled and used alongside register, rhythm, and motion to support musical ideas. The highest register tends to be associated with the loudest dynamic, although at rehearsal letters E and F, there is some use of the high register at mp. Likewise, the lowest register is associated with a soft dynamic (see measures 53-54, and 112), but is used in an exciting and intense manner at an f in measures 77 — 78. Dynamics also serve alongside range to distinguish sections and themes: while the initial theme is high and loud, the second theme (at A, measure 20) is in the middle register and piano. The third theme (at B, measure 28), is again high and loud, and the fourth (measure 37) is in the middle register and mp. The middle section begins at mp, builds up to mf, back down to mp, this time up to f, back down to mf, then down to p. The music continues to build, fall back a bit, and build again. Just before G, it has reached ff, then comes back to f, and continues to build all the way until ffff is reached at rehearsal letter J (measure 98). This loudest dynamic is sustained through the climax and out the other end, the decrescendo only beginning in measure 109. Then, in three measures time, the dynamic moves from ffff to mp. The last section is pretty much loud, ranging from mf to ff. In this piece, the quieter spots act not just as an expressive tool and as a formal delineator, but also as a respite from the continuous high energy of the greater part of the piece. There are few pieces in the flute literature that compare in loudness to Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion.


The computer part of this piece is mostly created in layers, or tracks. The exceptions to this are a few of what Battey terms "microtonal washes" of sound, which sound something akin to waves hitting a beach. This occurs going into rehearsal letter A (measure 20), [others?]. Otherwise, the sounds are comprised of MIDI synthesized piano, and some percussion effects, all of which are notated in the score. The texture ranges from a single line (either solo flute or single line of computer), to the thickest texture of flute, five tape tracks, and three percussion tracks (measures 97 110). The texture serves the formal design of the piece as well as an expressive function — each theme and section has a slightly different usage of texture. As might be expected, the loudest, highest parts of the piece are accompanied by the thickest texture, and the quieter, lower parts by the thinnest texture. The first theme holds as one of its characteristics a complex layering between the flute and three tape parts. All of these instruments have fast notes, mostly 8th, 16th, and 32nd notes, are loud, and none of the parts shares exact rhythms. The result is a thick, complex texture in which each line has independence, but what is heard is almost a wash of energetic sound. The pulses and the rhythms are complex enough that at a single listening the lines will be difficult to distinguish, but the accents and the variety of note values keep it from becoming mushy. Rehearsal letter A presents a slower, linear flute melody over a single line of tape. Both tape and flute are softer, and the music becomes clearer and simpler. Basically, the texture is carefully manipulated throughout the piece very effectively.

It is in the realm of texture (as well as that of pure sound) that computer music has some advantages over acoustic music: there are more possibilities of texture changes on a computer. For example, although most of the sounds used in the piece are piano sounds, it would be impossible for a pianist to play at this speed, with such complex rhythms, and to achieve the thickest textures that this piece calls for. The texture could be achieved with an ensemble, except that the complexity of the rhythms is such that while an individual may be able to execute their rhythm, the odds of the entire ensemble executing theirs accurately together are extremely low. Arguably, we have, through the use of computer-generated sounds, achieved texture which has not been experienced in music before. Thick and dense textures have certainly been experienced very often, including complex textures in many musical traditions. Battey's deep interest in the classical music of India may have had some bearing in the contrapuntal and rhythmically complex textures used here.

Battey achieves differences in texture in many ways. One is by simply adding more layers of tape, another is by adding more notes in an individual tape part, another by making rhythms more complex and varied with a tape part, another is by accenting certain notes amid the texture. Also, he often uses chords alternating with rests in one tape part to support the rhythmic grouping in the flute or another tape part, and sometimes this teaming up of voices will be done in tandem. That is, there may be two pairs of voices at a given time. For example, measure 94 contains flute, four tape parts, and three percussion parts. The rhythms of the flute part are supported by Tape 2, while Tape 1 and Tape 3 support each other. Because the parts are emphasized, the listener is able to perceive the patterns, instead of receiving simply a wash of sound. It is precisely because it is perceptible that makes it all the more complex and seemingly even more thickly textured. The mind is able to grasp the complexity of the layering and counterpoint, and there is a great deal of information contained in it. By the time this point in the music has been reached, these motives have been heard many times, and the familiarity serves to deepen understanding and the resultant complexity of the sound. If the listener is unable to identify the motives, then the music is experienced more as pure sound than as information. As composers and listeners, this is an area of deep interest and wide differences. It is interesting that while the piece begins and ends loud and fast, it is clearly less intense than the middle of the piece, where it is also loud and fast. The difference is the texture, rather than range, dynamics or speed.

Extended Techniques

The extended techniques used in this piece include flutter tonguing, unusual timing, crescendoed tremolos, glissando, and use of altissimo register. The flutter tonguing is quite standard except when used in the highest register (measure 101). The unusual timing isn't usually considered an extended technique, except somehow in this case it seemed appropriate, since extended technique refers to a technique that is outside conventional flute literature. Because the tape part is fixed in time, there isn't the option of communicating with the other player to synchronize an attack, which would be the conventional method. Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion contains three places where the timing is especially difficult: measures 59, 66, and 104 — 107, (there are many places where timing is difficult, but more approachable, such as the section between measure 98 and 103). What makes the timing so difficult in these places is that there is a large silence after which the flute is supposed to enter simultaneously with the computer. The length of rest is notated clearly, but it is quite difficult to count accurately. The one at measure 59 seemed especially difficult because the tape material preceding the silence is uneven and without detectable pulse. My solution here was to do two things: count as carefully as possible, and listen to the tape part many, many times and simply memorize the sound of how long the silence lasted. The ones at 66 and 104-107 are slightly easier, because the material leading up to the silence was pulsed, so the performer simply has to retain that pulse. Again, though, success ultimately depends upon familiarity with the feel and sound of the taped part, rather than relying solely upon counting. For myself, it seems more dependable to rely on the senses (feel and sound) than on the mind (counting). It's possible, even, that in conventional music, less counting is done than is usually thought, and more simply feeling and listening.

The crescendoed tremolos are found in measures 98 — 100, and measure 108. These are tremolos (trills of a distance greater than a second) in which not only does the dynamic increase, but also the speed of the tremolo itself, (meaning, the speed with which the performer moves from one note of the tremolo to the other). This is not difficult, but is not part of conventional literature, so deserves mention here. The glissando occurs in measure 25, and requires a glissando from a B to an F without fingering separate pitches. This is done by both sliding fingers over the open holes of their keys and off and also by using embouchure changes to alter the pitch. It's possible to get a fairly smooth glissando, although a precise rendition is unlikely and probably not necessary.

Altissimo register refers to notes higher than a fourth register D (or including the fourth register D, depending on whom you're talking to). Advanced and professional flutists are expected to be able to play with relative ease up to a high D, and a great deal of twentieth-century literature calls for this. But relatively few flutists know how to finger a D# or above, much less have the experience to incorporate it into a piece of music. Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion contains four instances of a fourth register D#, all contained in measures 104 — 106. These are easily executed with a daily practice in the altissimo register to maintain embouchure strength, and shouldn't present a problem to most flutists.


Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion is conventionally notated, in both the flute and tape parts. The only exceptions are that some sounds in the tape part are not included in the score, such as the microtonal washes. The beaming is also conventional, with four sixteenth notes being joined under a beam, making four groups of four per measure. While this is convenient for the flutist, and aids in readability, it also is different than the actual musical motives would indicate. It may be for readability, or perhaps because of the convenience of the notation software, that Battey chose to do this. It would be interesting to see how difficult practicing the piece would be were it to be beamed according to the rhythmic groupings indicated by the number sets. Also, the composer encourages the performer to "elaborate creatively on the score with timbre effects, rhythmic swing, etc. 'Dirty' breathy tone colors are acceptable and may even prove advantageous in some areas." [82]


As mentioned before, there are some difficulties in synchronization between the performer and the computer part. In general, though, synchronization is not difficult, partly due to the rhythmically steady and precise nature of the piece, and partly because there is a full computer score with which to compare the flute part. The piece begins with a measure of computer, which makes it quite easy to begin the piece. The tempo is clearly set, and the computer's opening line contains 16th and 32nd notes, so the flutist has already heard these before entering. There are two main areas of difficulty in synchronization in the piece: synchronization after silences, and hearing the pulse and subdivisions in the highly textured spots (around letter J) or sparse computer spots (letter G and letter E). Since the subdivision is completely steady throughout the piece, one method of practicing the synchronization is to identify the subdivisions (probably best done to the 16th note) and practice with the metronome, including the silences. Another method is to listen to the computer part alone quite often to become familiar with the ways that it moves and the timing. Yet another way is to listen to a precise performance of the piece, and listen to the interaction between the flute and computer, and simply imitate that. The huge silences in measures 104 — 106 are especially difficult because the texture preceding the silence is so thick and complicated that the subdivisions are somewhat lost in the mix. By the time the silence arrives, a sense of exactly how fast the 16th notes were is not as strong as it was at the beginning of the piece. The same methods of practice as mentioned above seem to work the best for me, although certainly other methods exist. This piece is easier than many electroacoustic works in terms of synchronization. Many contain computer sounds that move quite slowly, evolving rather than having any sense of what we would call rhythm or pulse. Again, this piece is predictable enough that it isn't necessary to use a stopwatch to keep track of where we are supposed to be at any given time.

Approach to Practice and Performance

The two most difficult things about this piece are the synchronization, as mentioned above, and the virtuosic technique it requires. The synchronization, I believe, is best practiced through careful counting and through exhaustive listening to the tape part alone and the tape and flute performance. Success is most assured if the body and the senses are doing most of the work, and that the memory of the timing is more dependable than our hoping for a consistent idea of the pulse. These are interrelated, and certainly, a sense of the pulse is felt in the body, which is why I recommend both methods.

As for the technique, I recommend not only traditional practice methods of slow, careful work and devices of simplification, but also of a great deal of score study, and study of both the tape part alone and performance on recordings. A lot of confusion about rhythms can be alleviated through a thorough understanding of the tape parts that underlie the flute parts, and how the two weave together. The extremely difficult passages, such as those at measures 85 and 74, can be effectively practiced by grouping notes, and having the ability to play the small groups, and slowly adding on. For instance, practicing a two-note group until the ear is completely familiar with the sound of it and the fingers are comfortable with the feel of it, and then moving to the next two-note group, and doing the same. Do each of these slowly, separately, moving each up to the performance tempo. Then put the two tiny groups together, start slowly, and move up to performance tempo. Continue in this manner, slowly building the groups, each time starting slowly and moving up. As you do this, remember that if you are able to perform each of the smallest groups accurately up to tempo, you are also able to perform the large group up to tempo. There are no combinations of notes in this piece that aren't found in conventional flute literature, it is mostly the speed and basically the endurance to make it through long passages of fast notes that is more difficult. With normal, good practice this piece is performable by most professional flutists.

Footnotes  (See Bibliography.)

[79] Bret Battey, Email interview by author.

[80] Bret Battey, composer's notes to Pater Noster's Tricyclic Companion see <http://staff.washington.edu/bbattey/Gallery/pntc-index.html>, May 2001.

[81] Bret Battey, Email interview with author, 20-30 May 2002, Attachment to "Interview Q's" (31 May 2002).

[82] Bret Battey, Composer's Notes, from liner notes to CDCM Computer Music Series 31, Music from CARTAH University of Washington, Centaur Recaur Records CDC 2512 (2001).

Electroacoustic Music for the Flute by Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte.
Copyright © 2002 by Sarah Louise Bassingthwaighte. All rights reserved.