'Perhaps you've come to expect certain things from modern music:
harmonic dissonance, rhythmic diffusion, and harshness and complexity. ...
I've decided it's time for a change of heart ...
My small gift of harmony is not devoid of dissonance and confusion,
so I present it to you not as my solution, but as a symbol of my search.'
-Buffalo NY, 1983
'Blood Red/Exquisite Blue' – vocal quartet and solo tenor.
'Saltwater' – solo tenor in five movements.
The vast, entrancing sea of Being seduces, terrifies, and ultimately transforms the one swept into her tide.
'Seen' – three-part canon.
Beyond dreams, beyond myths, beyond anything necessary or conceivable.
'Six Blind Men and the Moon' – accompanied tenor in six movements.
A cappella version for tenor and mezzo soprano, American Festival of Microtonal Music, on Bandcamp.
'Stationary Point' – trumpet with clarinet, bassoon, vibraphone.
'Tangible Midnight' – solo piano.
In appreciation of Morton Feldman.
'Ulmus Americana' – five tenor / countertenor voices a cappella.
A meditation on the American elm.
Harmony is central to the aesthetic and philosophy of the compositions of Paul Gallagher (1953-2011). His unique approach to microtonality ties deep structural harmony to programmatic explorations of the unity of existence. His oeuvre comprises stunning visual artworks accompanying his immersive vocal narratives.
Born in Pittsburgh, Paul Gallagher graduated from the Pennsylvania State University and received M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studied composition with Morton Feldman and Lejaren Hiller and voice with Heinz Rehfuss.
His orchestral, instrumental, and vocal compositions have been performed in New York, Copenhagen, and Pittsburgh. His choreographed chamber opera, “Six Blind Men and the Moon,” was performed at the Kraine Theater in New York in 1998. The vocal work, “Kingdom of Mescal,” premiered in New York in 1992, and his orchestral piece, “Way of the Hopi,” premiered at the American Festival of Microtonal Music in 1987 at Merkin Hall in New York. His grants included a fellowship in composition from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a New York State Council on the Arts grant to produce a new music radio program, and grants from Meet the Composer.
He was invited to lecture on microtonality at the Young Nordic Music Festival in Copenhagen, and his works for just-tuned piano were presented in concert on Danish Radio. Performances include a chamber orchestra piece by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, a choral work in New York by Melodious Accord, and numerous vocal and chamber pieces in New York and New Jersey presented by Composers Concordance, North/South Consonance, Composers Guild of New Jersey, New York Open Center, Phoenix, Composers’ Forum, Newark Museum and the New Jersey State Museum.
Paul Gallagher made enduring contributions to the vitality of microtonal expression. Fusing compositional structure and thematic ethos, his works explore the artistic possibilities of just intonation through a unique framework of deeply integrated harmonic proportions.
"My use of just intonation stems from an interest in harmony both aurally and philosophically," he wrote. "Each partial of an overtone series is itself a fundamental, casting its own series of partials. Yet, this myriad of partials and fundamentals is not heard as a complexity but as a single composite sound."
Paul Gallagher's vocal works incorporate his starkly original visual art to dramatize the quest for existential unity, speaking to the capacity of New Music to convey the universal and the timeless. His instrumental compositions use natural harmonic ratios to reflect the intensity and tenderness where sound and silence meet, invoking the charged space between fear and love, time and eternity.
"In each facet of Being can be seen both its fundamental identity and its relative or partial identity," he wrote. "To observe that each facet constantly embraces both poles is to see that they are in fact a single identity and to understand harmony as an inevitable reality."
Blood Red/Exquisite Blue
Close Your Sleepy Eyes