Redintegration (2015) by Nick Bacchetto
for flute, violin, viola, and cello
World premiere; Earplay commission

In the discipline of cognitive psychology, "redintegration" refers to the phenomenon that the remembrance of a portion of a memory can be sufficient to trigger the recall of the entire memory. This concept served as the conceptual impetus for Redintegration. The compositional process was initiated through the 'free' composition of a section of music equal to 1/5th of the piece's length. This material slowly evolves and explores mostly gradual changes in density, pitch-space, tessitura and timbre such that, when the material is heard in its entirety, the processes governing the music's development over time are easily perceivable by the listener. This material was then fragmented in a fashion similar to the fragmentation of genetic material in DNA fingerprinting, resulting in hundreds of tiny musical bits. These musical fragments were randomly ordered and presented as the piece's opening material. These randomly ordered fragments were then passed through an algorithm that 'selects for' the deployment of the fragments in their original order by 'locking in' fragments that are randomly distributed to their original position. This process can be illustrated in prose as follows (words in bold are 'locked in' to their correct positions):

Sentence coherent this more progressively becoming is.
This is coherent more progressively sentence becoming.
This becoming is more progressively sentence coherent.
This sentence is more progressively becoming coherent.
This sentence is becoming progressively more coherent.

After hundreds of random distributions, the material that was once randomly ordered returns to its original (i.e. coherent) order. During this process, three 'snapshots' are taken which show the order of the musical fragments progressing toward the music's original form, dividing the music into five progressively more coherent sections (as in the prose example given above), the first of which is ordered randomly and the last of which is ordered properly.

Interrupting and masking the aforementioned process are sections of music in which the entire ensemble enters a state of extreme stasis. These interruptions are akin to dark veils, obscuring our perception of a well understood process. When the veils are eventually lifted, we recommence our perception of the process and can infer both what we had missed and how the process arrived at the more advanced state. Over time, this obscuring material evolves to become progressively more similar to the material it was obfuscating, to the point that that which is obscured and that which is obscuring are no longer distinguishable.

The piece’s final section consists of a presentation of the original material in the correct order, i.e. the randomly ordered sections trigger a "redintegration" in the listener. The last section's material is also progressively more obscured, this time by sections of total silence. These obstructions are like dark chasms that draw the piece to a close.

— N.B.    

[from program for May 16, 2016 concert]