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regulus regulus—for piccolo solo
a StarCycle piece

clip of regulus regulus for piccolo

(a fragment from the center of the piece (page 4))

| go directly to these pages in the score: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

| New: listen to a performance model of regulus regulus—for piccolo solo [requires QuickTime] |

Listen to a performance model of
Regulus—for piccolo solo
in streamed RealAudio

| NEW: DOWNLOAD MP3 of a performance model of Regulus:mp3 (c. 9') [2 Mb]
| download complete PDF of regulus (eight 11" x 17 "pages) [requires Adobe Acrobat Reader] | [240 K']

The Little King

Small things are best.
The small contains all.
Who wouldn't bow down
for a two-day moon.


Like the other Star Cycle pieces, Regulus regulus—the reason for the iteration
will become clear I hope below— borrows its name from the heavens. Latin for
"the little king", Regulus is a bright star which traditionally forms part of Leo
The Lion, the fifth constellation of the Zodiac. Leo is positioned in the night sky
between Cancer and Virgo, and is most easily seen in the Northern Hemisphere
in the spring. One can locate Regulus by using the Big Dipper as a guidepost:
Drawing an imaginary line from the Pointer Stars of the Dipper's bowl leads us
to Polaris; drawing another imaginary line in the opposite direction leads us to
the star cluster Leo and Regulus, which is thought to be the base of the Sickle
or backwards facing question mark. Here's a sketch which shows the classic
pattern of stars:

regulus star

In addition to the reference to a distant point of light in the vernal night sky,
the title Regulus regulus, now with its iteration, also pays homage to one of
Europe's smallest birds, the Kinglet. (Regulus is both its generic and specific name,
the repetition calling attention to its " the exemplar" or "one of a kind" quality.)
(See drawing below of its closely related cousin, the Golden-crowned Kinglet.) I'm
especially fond of this little bird. This is because I've frequently been kept company
by these lively diminutive beings while snowed in at spring basecamps in the European
Alps. Sometimes, I'd have to sit for days after a heavy storm, lucky enough to be
protected in my tent at the upper limits of the Norwegian spruce/ larch-tree forest,
waiting for the avalanche danger to subside. You can imagine that time moves slowly
in this environment. There are no distractions. There's the total white of new snow
and thick mist. So when a little troupe of kinglets would seemingly out of nowhere
visit my camp, it was always a moment of great joy. Upon hearing their bright
metallic chirpings, I would leap out of my tent and see if I could catch a peek.
Sometimes, they'd let me get right up next to them as they scampered about the
boughs of spruce trees looking for insects. Not much bigger than a thumb, little
straight pointed beak, and I've read a heartbeat of some 600 pulses a minute, the
light and lively energy of this tiny creature seemed like a gift from the mountain gods
to help me through my long wait.

Two Kinglets

clip of kinglets
So, these then are my two guiding inspirations for my little solo
piccolo piece: one, a distant star which points to the promise of
a new kind of performance music, both strongly rooted in the
traditions of the past, but also eager to explore unknown horizons;
the other, a humble member of earthbound creatura, one which
with its every movement demonstrates the truth of the saying,
small is beautiful.

As a piece for unaccompanied solo piccolo, regulus in turn forms part of a much larger
cycle of new compositions for acoustic instruments I call together the Star Cycle.
(See also the introductions to cih—for flute solospica—for percussion solo
and m4—for cello solo.)

Qualities of musical movement: coro /voce solo

One can think of Regulus as an ongoing stream of many complementary as well as,
to varying degrees, contrasting musics. On a macro level, when one looks at this
stream as a whole, these musics weave themselves together into two different
qualities of movement—one is many-voiced or polyphonic, while the other is
basically one-voiced, or monophonic. It is this difference that distinguishes the
first and last movements of the piece from one another.

Here's a sketch of the texture or general quality of movement of the opening
of the piece. The different colors and shapes roughly correspond to
different micro-behaviors or patterns of change:

| listen to a model of coro  | [REQUIRES QuickTime] | go directly to these pages in the score: 1 | 2 |

In contrast, the fourth and last movement one can think of as one solidly unified
—in the drawing it is monochromatic—thread:

| listen to a model of voce solo | [REQUIRES QuickTime] | | go directly to these pages in the score: 7 | 8 |

And here are a few examples of different qualities of movement shown as they are
notated in the score of the piece. Below is the strongly assertive rhythmic music,
played in the piccolo's unique low register, which opens the first movement. Straight
away, the music leaves no doubt that it's setting out on a serious adventure, distancing
itself from the at times overly sweet stereotypes of the piccolo's traditional repertoire,
while aligning itself with the historical rediscovery of the piccolo's more energetic side
in 20th century classics like the second movement of Edgar Varèse's Octandre:

The chorus—or in Italian, coro—of avian-like musics begins gradually, but quickly,
shortly after this first figure. Notice the sharp leaps from one order or quality of
movement to the next (groups of 5 to 3), much like some warblers like to do:

Soon, the choir is expanded to include higher pitched voices. Notice that the resulting
counterpoint is temporal, that is, not spatial, as is normally the case in classical
Western music:

Here, the ensemble expands fully to include six different musics or voices, each
in the example given a different color, similar to the drawing above::

The modulation to green musics means a change to regular, periodic,
leapings about:

Now the musical stream has become firmly metric, fitting the 5/4 bar precisely:

Tempo slides or glissandi

The key musical or rhythmic feature here—the shape of the music's change
is a smooth, continuous 'getting faster' and 'getting slower'. The music does this
in a necessarily very precise way, moving in steps until the tempo or speed of the
basic meter is doubled, then doubled again, and again. Or vice versa: halved and
halved again, and so forth. This is directly analogous to singing or playing a sliding

tone—a so-called glissando—from one pitch to another one an octave higher, and
so on. That's why I call these doublings of tempo octaves. Here's a sketch of the
cycle of relationships. (Mathematicians, among whom I unfortunately do not include
myself, will notice, to use their language here for a moment, a fractal-like iterative
function at the root of this pattern of movement, with self-similar relationships at
differences of scale.
The key remains, however, that it sounds beautiful, much as if
the graceful spirals of ferns had been translated into sound.(see photo/miniature:
metaphor) This phrase—self-similar relationships at a differences of scale—is an
important one to remember, I think. This is because it points to a simple yet powerful
way of looking at or thinking about both structure and movement in the future.):

Four octaves of tempo

And here is a sketch of a similar pattern of movement, but now with four instead
of three steps between each octave of tempo:

As a final brief note to the performer, below is a diagram of the rhythmical
composites and their different equivalents, used towards the end of the piece: 

| NEW: DOWNLOAD MP3 of a performance model of Regulus:mp3 (c. 9') [2 Mb]
| listen to a simple computer model of regulus regulus—for piccolo solo [requires QuickTime] |
See also the companion cycle of pieces for flute 
Intro: cih—for flute solo

movement I: preludium (shown below)

| back to Picture/Poems: Central Display | About Cliff Crego |
| go to the Cliff Crego's New Music website, The Circle in the Square: Central Display |

| Other websites by Cliff Crego: Circle IconPicture/Poems;
Also: The Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke
| Dutch Poetry: r2c |

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(created VII.8.2001) (last update VII.31.2003)  
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