Tanka is similar to my earlier work Three Haiku in that it uses a Japanese poetic form to determine structure. The English form of tanka typically has 31 syllables distributed over five lines in the pattern 5-7-5-7-7. The final two lines are often considered the "turn" (similar to that in a sonnet), where the subject matter or mood changes the meaning of the preceding lines. In this piece, the cello's melodic material projects 31 sonorities, divided into five large sections. The first three sections feature disjunct and declamatory gestures, while the final two sections (after the "turn") feature more continuous and running gestures.
Performance by Craig Hultgren:
Video of the viola version, with Michael Brooks of Terminus Ensemble:
• Michael Brooks, Terminus Ensemble, 12/9/12
• Craig Hultgren, University of Florida, 10/22/13