Considering the composition with patterns demand a forehand question: patterns in what sense? What is pattern? Why patterns?
What is the difference between pattern and repetition? Pattern needs repetition?
If we can consider a pattern as a recurrence of events in a specific context, then the repetition has an important role in this sense. But must the pattern be predictable?
In Feldman’s works, predictability is not common in the musical flow. How is possible compose unpredictable patterns?
Feldman operates with degrees of difference and similarity. Similar musical information can be present in similar or different contexts (Sabbe, 1996). For instance, in Why patterns?, page five, first system, there is a ritornello written for the glockenspiel. But there are no ritornellos for flute or piano. In a traditional sense, a ritornello means a repetition, a literal recurrence for confirm a musical idea, a tonal center, a pattern. But here, each player has his own tempo, his own pace, forming a Feldman’s layering idea. In this case, there is not any repetition of musical ideas. Without the score it is almost impossible recognize this ritornello, because of the continuity of the musical flow. In another example, in Triadic memories, measure 141 and subsequent, a chain of ritornellos presents a specific sort of repetition. Actually, it is not a matter of repetition. It is nothing but a phasing and dephasing. Notice that each system presents a repeated pair of notes varied in metric, with slight alterations. Notice that each staff has the first note in each measure. This process continues for the next 46 measures, always with different designs.
In Feldman’s works there is an important notion dealing with his degrees of difference and similarity: process. Feldman is often dealing with musical processes. But it is not a process in a minimalistic sense (as in Reich, Glass, Riley). Feldman’s processes are unpredictable, even surprising. Even though the notion of phase has become excelled by Reich, the process of phasing in Feldman’s works plays a fundamental role and has a completely different meaning.
In Feldman’s aesthetics, composing with patterns means composing with processes. He creates processes based upon recurrences of some musical parameter, keeping others unaltered. All processes deal with constant variations, unpredictably in the most of the time.
In Triadic memories the patterns are more recognizable, more tangible than Why patterns?. In the latter, the patterns are more unpredictable, there is less recurrence in the musical flow. Both works deal with transformation of musical ideas, degrees of difference and recurrence.