Canto Ostinato (1973-1979)
for one or more keyboard instruments
duration: variable, from approx. 80'

INSTRUCTIONS from the score:

The scheme of repeats, as a structural element of the piece, allows
the player(s) to make their own choices regarding:

a)  the number of times the relevant sections will be repeated

(the sections specified as a bridge are to be played just once),

b)  the intensities (forte, piano, etc.),

c)  the manner of playing (legato, staccato, portato etc.).

The piece develops within the frame of choices offered in these three
points and it is worth remembering that the players are by no means
allowed to act as composers and play notes not found in the score.

Octave transpositions in the wandering parts are to be applied with
caution and restraint. Playing octaves, in the right as well as the
left hand, is categorically prohibited.

The players should well remember that (as a starting point) the right
hand of the main part and the (shifted) right hand of the part above
should be played continuously and consequently in ‘narrow spacing’.

The players should keep in mind that there is no conductor waving a
baton over Canto Ostinato and that it is the inner strength of the
players themselves that should perform this task. The control, even
when looked after by one of the players, lies in the sum of

After some time has elapsed the different intensities alternate with a
noticeable transition, from forte to piano and the other way around
(terraced dynamics) and this happens collectively, which means that
all players switch at the same time. This may coincide with a change
in the manner of playing, from legato to staccato for example and vice
versa and this is performed by all players at the same time as well.
The composer has always insisted that the transitions in intensity and
manner of playing be carried out with a maximum of control and

Simeon ten Holt