Two main ideas comprise the basis for this piece: Per Nørgård´s "infinity row" and Balinese kotekan. I have borrowed the ideas, weaved them together, and let them influence nearly every aspect of the composition. They are present both in the details of the music and in its formal structure. The result is something which neither resembles Nørgård nor Bali, but that was never the intention.

The "infinity row", in its simplest form, is an alternating between opposites (call them "high" and "low") in an endless series which begins with "high-low-low-high". The row´s most fascinating characteristic is self-similarity at different time scales: The basic row is namely identical with the rows which are formed by every other element in it, every fourth, every eighth, etc., ad infinitum.

Balinese music is also characterized by an accordance between cycles at various time scales, and it is typical to have periodic meeting points, where all the various levels coincide, (often marked by the stroke of a large gong). Kotekan is a Balinese term for melodic ornamentation composed of two interlocking musical parts. This technique is used, among other things, to create tension in anticipation of the coinciding of levels in the music.

In Sax Cycles, these ideas influence minute details (as, for example, the relationship between high and low notes in a melodic sequence), as well as the organization of larger sections which comprise the overall form of the piece.

Sax Cycles was commissioned by Rolf-Erik Nystrøm and Torben Snekkestad, who premiered it at the Ilios Festival of Contemporary Music in Harstad, Norway on the 31st of January, 2004. Thoughts about their unique qualities as musicians hovered constantly in the back of my mind while I worked, and greatly influenced the result. Among the many opposites which alternate through this music is stringency and freedom. Rolf-Erik and Torben feel at home in both. I have given them challenges both with respect to rhythmical precision and technical execution on the one hand, and interpretation of more open notation and instances of improvisation on the other.

Rob Waring