Earth Spirits

Earth Spirits

Quick View

Scoring & Instrumentation
Violin and Viola
Alternate Title


Year Authored (or revised)


Duration (min)
Violin: Turbulent, Tranquil, Playful
Viola: Rainfall, Clouds, Streams

Files & Media



Sample Pages




Composer's Note:

Earth Spirits is another composition in a series that experiments with counterpoint in an aleatoric work. My own compositional training always stressed that the composer needed to specify the exact action necessary to perform a work: the precise pitch, rhythm, articulation, etc. needed at any point of the piece. As I grew older and wiser, I found I was attracted to many works that used chance elements. Why (and how) did these pieces work? Why, despite the many variations these aleatoric options may create, did the piece always maintain a common character? I set out to explore this interesting world by combining it with my own love for contrapuntal textures.

Counterpoint is taught by giving students a line of music and asking them to write a second line against it. The teacher is then asked to discuss the merit of the various solutions given, pointing out what makes one version better than another. One comes to realize that the answer is somewhat subjective. One exercise might have a more pleasing contour, but another may produce nicer harmonies or use rhythm more effectively. Earth Spirits explores the multiple possibilities of combining two lines of music. Each player is given three movements and that could be played in any order. Any of the violin’s movements will work with any of the viola’s to create a duet with a distinct rhythmic counterpoint, harmonies, and mood. Each performance is slightly different and offers the listener a unique listening experience.


Earth Spirits is a duet for violin and viola. Each part contains three pieces:

Violin: Turbulent, Tranquil, Playful
Viola: Rainfall, Clouds, Streams

Each performer decides on the order that they will play their movements. Earth Spirits is designed so that any of the violin’s movements will combine with the viola’s to create a duet. Players can decide on the order of the movements independently or consult with one another to find the best combinations. The result is the creation of three distinct duets, each with its own character and feeling.

Each duet lasts three minutes. There are no barlines. Instead, the duration of the pieces is indicated in real time. Significant time points are indicated throughout each movement. Performers will need a digital stopwatch to keep together. Players should practice their parts to become comfortable with fitting their music in the times indicated. (WARNING: The horizontal spacing does not represent the temporal proportions within a given timespan.)

The players begin and end together. The performers should first announce the title of the piece they have created by combining the names of the movements they are about to perform. For instance, combinations may create “Turbulent Rainfall” or “Playful Clouds.” The violin always starts at time 0’00” and should therefore control the beginning of a duet. Performers should take care to start passages at the timepoints indicated as much as possible. (Slight deviations are fine.)

A performance should comprise three duets that contain all six individual pieces. (However, performers are free to come up with their own scheme if they like.)

Due to the combinatorial nature of the work's form, no combined score is available. Customers will receive a set of two parts with each discrete set of pieces.

First Perfomance
Dian D'Avanzo, violin; Nancy Buck, viola. Concert: Nancy Buck and Friends, Katzin Concert Hall, Arizona State University, September 26, 2021


Text Language - Non English


Text Source/Author


Title Number
Ensemble Type
duo inst or voices


violin , viola
Purchase Options
PDF License & Download
PDF Price
Print & Ship
$13.50 parts