Awaiting her return

The 2022 Unthunk album Elliptic is based on the celestial mechanics concept of orbital resonance, which is the phenomenon wherein the orbits of bodies such as planets and moons may be synchronized, due to the gravitational forces among them. The rhythms in Elliptic’s pieces illustrate some of the notable synchronizations in our solar system. “Awaiting her return” was intended to be part of that project. Venus orbits the Sun thirteen times for each eight Earth orbits, almost exactly. After this period, the two planets are very slightly offset relative to the background stars. Their return to a starting position relative to the stars traces a slow drift that takes 1199 earth years to complete.

“Awaiting her return” is based on a three voice sequence. Two of the voices form an 8:13 mensural canon. The third voice plays long notes in a repeated five note pattern that slowly drifts out of phase with the the canon. Every five repeats, the third voice shifts to a new set of five long notes. After five sets of long note patterns, the third voice returns to alignment with the canon, at which point the piece ends.

To this slow procession, sequenced on a modular synthesizer, a free guitar part is added.