Simeon ten Holt composed Canto Ostinato in the years 1976-79. The composition evolves from a traditional source, is tonal and is constituted of functional harmonies whose properties correspond with the laws of cause and effect (tension and relaxation). The piece consists of measures or sections that should be repeated. These measures or sections will be joined together and will form a chain-structure.
An important role is played by time. Although most measures and sections are marked with a repetitionsign and it is up to the interpreters to determine how many should be played, there is no question of repetition as such in the traditional sense. By changing accents within a repeated motive, alternating legato and staccato and applying dynamic contrasts, the measures or sections can substantiate themselves.
The performers determine the musical color of the repetition, they take decisions about the dynamic contrasts, about the measure of time, dependent on the development of the piece, the acoustics and the instruments. Simeon ten Holt leaves that completely to the performers: he hardly gives any indications in the score in relation to the dynamics, the way of playing and the playingtime of the piece.
Canto Ostinato score page 19.