Because I am a professional bassist and pianist as well as composer, when I want to try something out, I often write it for bass or piano. If it turns out well, I know I can always use it myself. In this case, I wrote a piece for both. The piece stayed in manuscript, buried in my pile of unused manuscripts until 2018, when I found it and polished it a little bit.
The piece uses some techniques I was exploring during the 1980’s. The title Round Five is a whimsical reference to the canon-like structure that occurs throughout the piece at a frequency of five measures. It is actually not really a canon, but more related to the kind of structure in second-generation Minimalist composers like John Adams. The material occurs in layers, with each layer having hierarchical importance based on repetition. The lower levels (the most interesting) repeat only once, if at all, while the highest level changes material only twice during the piece. The high level repetitions make the piece feel, at times, like a chaconne or passacaglia. The idea of the piece was to treat the repetitions in a canonic fashion instead of always using the same sound and register for the same level, as is often the case in Minimalist pieces.
When I rediscovered the piece I found that the canonic element made it delightfully fun to play. In fact, with the different ideas always seemingly in a mild struggle for attention, I found the title’s reference to boxing even more appropriate.