Amnesia Variance is one of four marginally related pieces I wrote between 1979 and 1990 which share “Amnesia” in their titles. Each of the four pieces deals with musical memory or the erosion of it, often juxtaposing contrasting material in sharp relief without the benefit of a transition. Amnesia Variance has as one of its main concerns the development of the opening tune, initially played by the hammered dulcimer and strings. Disruptions to that development, however, occur frequently along the way. The sound of the hammered dulcimer was a fundamental inspiration for the piece, not only because of its vibrant timbre, but also because of its restricted diatonic pitch resources.
Amnesia Variance was written at the Djerassi Foundation in California and completed in New York City in 1989. —Lee Hyla