• Robert Xavier Rodríguez
  • The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (orchestra version) (2005)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)
  • 2(pic).2.2.2/4.2.2+tbn.1/timp.2perc/pf.hp/str; opt slides
  • Narrator
  • 20 min

Programme Note

First performance:
March 25, 2012
Jamie Bernstein, narrator
Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Richard Giargiulio, conductor
Dallas, TX

Program note:
The Dot and the Line, A Romance in Lower Mathematics (2011) for narrator, and visual images was commissioned by the Dallas Symphony and Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute with support from Richard and Sherolyn Merrick, Donald and Norma Stone and the University of Texas at Dallas. An earlier chamber version (2005) was commissioned by the Dallas-based Voices of Change ensemble. The work is based on the classic 1963 book of the same title, with text and illustrations by Norton Juster. Rodríguez has previously written A Colorful Symphony (1987), for narrator and orchestra, based on a chapter from Juster's best-known work, The Phantom Tollbooth (1961).

Rodríguez's musical version is the first multi-media treatment of The Dot and the Line since the academy-awardwinning 1965 animated film made by Chuck Jones, the celebrated producer of such cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Pepe LePew, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. The text of The Dot and the Line concerns "a sensible straight Line" who is "hopelessly in love" with a Dot. The Dot, meanwhile, "only has eyes for a wild an unkempt Squiggle." The Line, however, learns to bend in new and dazzling ways and, in doing so, triumphs. The music represents the three characters through a series of leitmotifs which are developed throughout the work: quick, repeated notes for The Dot; scales or glissandos for The Line; and a primitive, repetitive motive accompanied by dissonant clusters for The Squiggle. The instrumental writing is virtuosic for all instruments, with prominent passages for a solo string quartet, harp and piano. The percussion writing is particularly colorful, including such non-traditional sounds as ratchet, slide whistle, siren, flexatone, police whistle, whip, cowbells, the jawbone of an ass and lion's roar.

Rodríguez employs three classical quotations: a motif from Wagner's opera Tristan and Isolde (as the narrator, at the opening, describes The Line's unrequited love for The Dot) and two fragments from keyboard works of J.S. Bach: the Fugue in E Minor from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I and the Toccata in E Minor (one blending into the other at the mention of the word "erudite"). The composer also includes a comical version of a fragment from his Vaudeville-based opera, The Old Majestic (1988), as The Squiggle says, "Hey, have you heard the one about the two guys..." The quotations merge with Rodríguez' characteristic "richly lyrical" (Musical America) musical style: "romantically dramatic" (Washington Post) and full of "the composer's all-encompassing sense of humor" (Los Angeles Times).

Related works:
   The Dot and the Line
   —narrator and ensemble



More Info