boudewijn cox
Boudewijn Cox

c o m p o s i t i on s

Diferencia (2006)

for ensemble

“Diferencia was commissioned by the TRANSIT festival and had its first performance there on October 27th 2006 by ‘Het Collectief’.

March 2006 I started composing this commission. The birth of my daughter and the illness of my mother (start of new life and the loosing of grip on life), made me have the feeling that the score uptill then was not to the point. So I started anew in September, this time on Diferencia. Diferencia is dedicated to my mother who unfortunately passed away too soon to listen to a performance.

The Diferencia in 16th-century Spanish music was early form of variation based on a familiar melody, with an ostinato bass. Variety was achieved through diminutions, a rich figuration and changes of tempo; bass and harmony were constant. One fine example is Diferencias sobre 'Guardame las vacas', written for vihuela by Luys de Narvaez in 1538.
The connection between my Diferencia and the historical version is not difficult to see: the melody and bass are replaced by a pitch-class set, wich is varied over seven sections of unequal length using devices such as figuration, orchestration and tempo changes. This development implies that the basic material is presented in continually different ways over the course of the composition.
Each section, and its division into smaller phrases, originates in a change of idea and expression, and is linked to a transposition related to the orginal set. the length of each section is proportioned using the golden mean, as are the tempo fluctuations. Starting with the fourth section, the transposition goes back to the beginning in reverse order, but with an inverted set, ending with a slight variation on the introduction of the piece. Diferencia is, in other words, bilaterally symmetrical in structure and has a closed cycle.

  • dedicated to W. J. Lucas Luyckx
  • length : ca 11"00'
  • first performance : Het Collectief, STUK, 27 October 2006, Leuven
  • commissioned by Festival van Vlaanderen, Vlaams-Brabant for the Transit Festival of contemporary music, with a grant of the 'Ministerie van Cultuur van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap'.
  • fl(/alt), basscl, vl, vla, vlc, pno
  • score available through :

Diferencia - live recording by Het Collectief

excerpt, 2min17 (2.6Mb)

play mp3


diferencia pdf (111 Kb)



The formula of Transit, a festival for "music of the 21st century", is daring, but has also some weak moments.

Concert review by Maarten Beirens

..... Boudewijn Cox started in Diferencia with a strongly "geponeerde" harmonic basis that came back in different variations: exciting and very clear and solid of structure, which made this piece very convincing. ....

De Standaard - October 31 / November 1, 2006

(original review in Dutch)