For Bunita Marcus 4: Pages 14-15

In my last post, I noted the way that these first pages of For Bunita Marcus contain such a diversity of music. With page 14, Feldman begins recycling patterns and music from earlier in the piece. I’ll talk about the first chunk of this briefly here, and then in my next post I’ll cover the more extended and involved memories that fill pages 16-19.

Pages 14 and 15 are devoted to a reappearance of the image last seen on pages 8-10: the two oscillations of G-flat/E-flat and C/D. As in the earlier appearance, these two pairs of notes go through subtly shifting rhythmic patterns, moving quite independently of the alternating 3/8 and 5/16 meters.

So for the first four systems, the music is really a continuation of the earlier pages. But the pattern slows down and spreads out in the last of these four systems, and in the last system of the page the image is transformed:

For Bunita Marcus, end of page 14

The left hand part of the pattern has morphed into a single chord, while the right hand’s E-flat/G-flat motion continues. This sonority continues unchanged for the entirety of the following page. At the top of the page, Feldman slows down the rhythm dramatically:

For Bunita Marcus:  top of page 15

This, combined with the stopping of motion in the left hand, makes this passage feel as if we are in some kind of suspended animation. The music floats for a few minutes in this one harmonic space, the only change being the shifting of the rhythms in the right hand and the unpredictable tolling of the chord in the left hand.  It is as if Feldman’s mind settled on this sonority and sank into a deep reverie on it, losing all forward momentum of thought, at least for a few minutes.  But the turn of the page breaks the spell, as we shall see.


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