Welcome to my blog

I have created this site in order to provide performers, listeners and composers with a description of a composer's experiences with the creative process. The posts will provide discussions of the inspirations, challenges, and successes of a composer from the inception of the piece to the culmination in performance. I will provide a link to where you can see and hear the works in progress. Comments and questions are always welcomed. They will not posted unless you grant me permission.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

End of Year Musings

Even though I have not been composing during the holidays, I have been busy preparing scores for posting at my website and at sibeliusmusic.com. For the 7 1/2 years that I have been retired from teaching, I have been gradually working on getting examples of all my music posted in both places. For each piece, I create a file that can be seen and heard simultaneously using the free Scorch player from Sibelius. I also create mp3 excerpts and a graphic of the first page of the score. I have been a Sibelius user for about 8 years, ever since they came out with a version for MAC. Prior to that, I used Finale since around the mid 1980's. Therefore, out of my over 250 compositions arrangements, over half need to be converted to Sibelius files. The ones in Finale come over fairly easily, but need a lot of formatting to look correct. The works that were in manuscript need to be entered into Sibelius. This takes a lot of time. Then I need to create all the files and post them in the two places.

At the end of the year, I usually update my composition records. It had been two years since my last update, and it was interesting to see what I accomplished. During the two year period, I wrote around 15 new compositions, transcribed 3 works that were in manuscript, converted around 35 works that were in Finale, and posted around 40 works to my website and sibeliusmusic.com. If you would like to see how my website functions, go to http://www.cooppress.hostrack.net
I think there is no better way to find new music than to see and hear the music in the convenience of your own home. I remember the hours I used to spend in the music store looking for new music and often guessing whether it would sound right for my needs. The internet certainly has changed the way we can select music.

While you are at my website, you may wish to check out my publishing company's grant programs and recording competition. Via a generous donation from a supporter and contributions from earnings from my music, we have established the Co-op Press Fund. The fund offers grants to encourage musicians to become involved in promoting the excitement of new music. The idea behind the "co-op" in Co-op Press is to find innovative ways for performers and composers to work together to create an excitement for contemporary art music and to spread the word to both audiences and other performers about the wealth of good literature that has recently or is presently being written. We really believe that both these talented musicians and composers need to be heard. As funds and time permit, our goal is to expand this program to continually create projects to achieve this goal. Our affiliate CD label, Emeritus Recordings, has two series of CDs. Our Artist Series features talented musicians playing a variety of repertoire, some older and some recent. Our Repertoire Series, focuses on recent repertoire in specific genres. A lot of my music has been recorded as a result of these projects and we are proud to be able to share the talent of these artists and composers with audiences throughout the world.

I hope that 2008 brings all my readers all the musical and personal blessings that are on your wish list. I look forward to productive year and to traveling to premieres and performances of my music. During the early part of 2008, I'll be in Lancaster, PA, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, OH, Manhattan, KA, and Iowa City, IA for performances. If you are a reader of my blog in those areas, please ask for details of my trip and stop by and say "hello".

Dr. B

Friday, December 14, 2007

Odds and ends

As you can see it has been a while since my last post. I'm still waiting for some more feedback from Meggie Aube regarding Guatemaya. It is exam time for her so I understand that she has other priorities. I have also been busy preparing some of my orchestral scores for posting on sibeliusmusic.com. If you haven't discovered this site yet, you will be amazed with what is available. There are over 75,000 scores that can be seen and heard with a lot of them available for free printing. Most of my scores that are posted cost, but I charge less at sibeliusmusic than I do at my website because the customer prints the music instead of my printing it and mailing it to you. There is also the fact that there is no waiting to receive your music. My goal is to have all music available through sibeliusmusic so I as I get a little extra time, I work on getting scores and parts ready for download. This is usually a fairly easy process except when my scores have been written using Finale first as I need to import them into Sibelius and edit them. I also still have several compositions in manuscript that I need to enter into Sibelius. My website at sibeliusmusic is http://www.sibeliusmusic.com/cgi-bin/user_page.pl?url=sbrandon

I have been working on my orchestral music because my publishing company is sponsoring a recording competition for my large ensemble compositions with a deadline of November 1, 2008. There are two prizes; $1000 and $500. So all band, orchestra, choir, brass ensemble, and percussion ensemble folks may wish to check out http://www.cooppress.hostrack.net/recordingcompetition.htm

The performance of my "Peace Is Not A Season" for chorus and strings by the York Symphony Chorus and Orchestra went very well. I am anxious to hear the recording which should be available in January. The few weeks are busy with brass quintet performances and then in January, I get to take a vacation from retirement! My wife and I plan to enjoy a camping trip to the sunny Southwest.

My posts will be less frequent, but I still intent to write as things crop up. I hope everyone enjoys their holiday and may there truly be peace on earth and goodwill, not just during the season, but forever.

Dr. B

Friday, December 7, 2007

Revision of Guatemaya Movement 1

I have received from feedback from Meggie Aube regarding the first movement of Guatemaya and I thought it would be informative to my readers to see how a collaboration between composer and performer often works. As I have said earlier, I am not a marimba player although I am generally aware of what the instrument can do. But it takes an expert to reflect on what is technically easy and hard. Meggie has done that for me in her latest email that appears below:

Hi Sy,
I have some comments on the first movement to give you after my initial reading of it. If you don't mind I will give you my comments for each movement seperately. I have been so busy with the semester ending that I don't have a lot of time. Also, I officially set the concert date for April 30th and it will be at 6:00 p.m.
An over all comment for the first movement is that it could be harder if you would like to make it so. There are many sections where I am only using two of the four mallets, so you could fill those sections in with more notes if you would like. Measure 13-33 would be a good example of this. And there are some moments where it goes from needing two mallets to needing 4 mallets and then back, I think it could just use 4 mallets all the way, unless there is a measure run of single notes which does happen. Measures 33, 34, and 35 seem to go between needing two and then four mallets.
Some of the double stops when you wrote for two notes played by one hand are awkward and will be very difficult to play accurately at a faster tempo. When there is a G and B flat going to an A flat and C in the right hand, and a C and E flat going to a B flat and D, the movement is very uncomfortable. This happens in measures 3 and 9 and the one in measure 67 is also awkward. The double stops in measure 10 and measure 66 are ok and so is the one in measure 34 since it is a D flat. And any time they are played with both hands, not just the right hand, those are also ok.
Those are all the comments that I wrote down. When I play it again I may find more. If you have any questions about my comments or any questions about anything in particular that your wondering if I can do, please let me know. Its fun looking at your piece!


I began by tackling the passages that are too difficult and considered the comment about using 4 mallets more often. In measure 3, I eliminated the awkward movement on beat 4 by putting notes in the left hand and removing one from the right hand. I carried over two notes in the left hand into measure 4 as well and it adds a richness to the harmony. In measure 4 on beat 1, I moved the first C of the right hand down to an Ab. What I am gathering from Meggie’s comments is that it difficult in rapid passages to change the angle of mallets when the top mallet goes from natural to flat and the bottom mallet goes from flat to natural and vice versa. I know from my reading about the marimba that keeping one note the same facilitates the technique and this solution worked well here. In measure 8, I filled out the harmony like I did in measure 4. In measure 9, I used the repeated note technique to eliminate the awkward technique of the left hand on beats 3 & 4. In measures 66 & 67, I copied the solution from Measures 8 & 9.

I now began to look for other places to use 4 mallets more often. The first place I chose was measures 14 and 15. There is still some of the technical challenge of changing hand position between over the bar line in the right hand, but I hope the fact that these are quarter notes and not eighths makes it easier. I definitely wanted a change of texture in the section beginning at 16 so left some of the measures alone. I did fill in the harmony at 17, 19 & 20 and again at 33 and 34. Measures 38 & 39 are a repeat of 8 & 9 so I copied the changes into those measures. At measures 42 & 43, I used a variant of what I did at 14 & 15 since these measures are in a lower register. The section at 44 is a repeat of the section at 16, so it changed accordingly.

I hope these adjustments got rid of the awkward technique, filled in the harmony in some sections by using 3 and 4 mallets, and preserved my original intent of the movement. I feel that the texture change between 2, 3 & 4 mallets are important to add variety to the movement. I did attempt to incorporate Meggie’s suggestions where I felt appropriate. Hopefully it satisfies her concerns. I’ll report back to you as to her comments regarding the revised movement.

To see and hear the revision, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Guatemaya - 4th Movement

On Friday and Saturday, I worked on the fourth movement, Chichicastenango. I constantly marvel at the wealth of information available on the internet. I decided to base this movement more on direct quotes of folk songs than the previous movements. The internet made this task much easier than if I had to go to a library for research. Youtube was particularly helpful because I was able to find clips of actually performances of Guatemalan music that people captured on digital video equipment so I felt like I was actually in Guatemala. I also found a Folkways recording of a marimba group playing a tune called Chichicastenango and downloaded it for $.99. With this material at hand, I was able to put together my fourth movement.

I began with an introduction that quotes a brief flute melody heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Te-KwXMF4M&feature=related. After that quote, I then transcribed part of a celebratory instrumental heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL1EXOPG7t4&feature=related. Measures 40 - 86 is a development section of the celebratory song. I used some free material of my own invention and motives from the tune itself and juxtaposed them, and transformed them through modulation, sequence, fragmentation, etc. I then returned to a quote of the introductory folksong (measures 87-92) that has a few notes added. Measures 93-121 contains more repetition and development of the celebratory song. Fragmentation of a motive and an accelerando leads into the statement of the song "Chichicastenango". The recording by Chaplandia can be found at http://www.folkways.si.edu./search/AlbumDetails.aspx?ID=3180#. I adapted it for one player and shortened it to fit my needs. The ending combines parts of the two main songs used in this movement.

When I use folk songs in my music, the challenge is knowing when to leave them in their original form or when to stylize them to bring them closer to the realm of art music. In this movement, I have done some of both. I frequently use folk material in my compositions. I have a set of four Spanish Dances that are my own melodies stylized from characteristics of these dances. I used a similar approach with three Greek Dances I wrote for clarinet and marimba. Even when quoting directly, I often combine one melody with another as in my Civil War Suite. I find that using folk music adds a sense a familiarity to a piece of music and at the same time enables the composer to use his/her craftmanship to present the material in unique ways.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Movement 3

Movement 3 is titled "Lake Atitlán" after the deep blue volcanic lake. I began by looking for some deep and rich rolled chordal sounds. I started with the interval of a perfect fifth in each hand and then began moving the parts to create the rest of the harmony and melody. The chord progression is non-traditional. The 3/4 cadence chord at measure 8breaks up the 4/4 pattern. I then started to hear a syncopated 16th note ostinato pattern that was used in measure 9. The rolled melodic idea enters in measure ten. I wanted the ostinato effect to continue, but I made smaller intervals so that it could be played with the left hand only. This section builds in intensity by repeating measures 12 - 15 up a fifth at measures 16 - 19. The 5/4 measure at 15 again breaks the 4/4 pattern as does the 2/4 measures in this section. Measure 22 ushers in a repeat of the opening measures up an octave and slightly varied, climaxing in measures 25 and 26 before relaxing into the 16th note ostinato idea at measure 33. Measures 10 - 19 are repeated next, but the octaves are changed and the idea is slightly varied. The ending shifts the listener's ear to a new tonality as the memory of the lake fades into the distance.

I envision soft mallets throughout this movement so that the strokes of the rolls are not very prominent. Unfortunately MIDI doesn't have mallet options, so the movement sounds choppier than the way I hear it. Imagine a deep blue lake with the image of a volcanic mountain reflecting on its surface for the sustained sections and sunlight glistening off the waves for the 16th note sections.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Movement 2 finished

Yesterday I completed the 2nd movement. The biggest challenge I had was trying to create the indefinite pitch quality of drums on the marimba. I was able to approximate the highness and lowness of the various drums by using a single pitch on the marimba, but this sounded more melodic rather than percussive. So I added some notes to create irregular interval content which gave the marimba a more drum-like quality (measures 37-40). The low drum was used as an ostinato in in measures 41-60. The example on youtube had the rhythm as 6/8 but I changed it to 5/8 to add an intensity that the counterpoint on the youtube example created. The ending is a repeat of the first part of the movement. I lengthened the ending notes of the first bird call in order to make the transition smoother. The movement fades away with a repeated figure.

The youtube url is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX2lsG1Lw_8. I suggest that you copy and paste this into a separate browser window so you can compare it to what I wrote.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Guatemaya Movement 2 started

The second movement is titled "Tikai" which is an ancient Mayan city with two temples. In my search of information about Mayan music, I came across a youtube example that uses flutes and drums imitating sounds from nature. My goal for this movement is to use this as a source of inspiration for a movement done entirely on marimba. It has been quite a challenge to do this, but I think I have been successful thus far.

The marimba uses three distinct registers. The high register is used for birds sounds, as if the marimba is a flute. The middle register is used for both drum sounds and middle register nature sounds. The low register is primary drum sounds. The contrapuntal nature of the youtube example is difficult to capture with just one player on marimba. I create the illusion of counterpoint by switching back and forth between ideas. I even use foot stomping as a counterpoint to the high bird sounds at several points.

I am leaning to keeping Guatemaya entirely for marimba. It would be tempting to add another percussionist as it would certainly make capturing some of these colors easier, but since the marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala, I want to focus on the versatility of the marimba and discover ways the marimba can imitate other percussion instruments through illusion.

The youtube url is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX2lsG1Lw_8. I suggest that you copy and paste this into a separate browser window so you can compare it to what I wrote.

To see and hear what is discussed, go tohttp://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

Friday, November 23, 2007

Guatemaya Movement 1 finished

This morning was productive as I formatted the clarinet part for my Sonata for Clarinet and Piano and finished the first movement of Guatemaya. In formatting the clarinet part, I discovered one more note that was out of range that I missed while working on the score. This exemplifies why I feel that is so important to work on the parts before declaring the score finished. This one note (beginning of rubato section of movement 2) caused me to move about three measures up an octave in order to preserve the intended line. At the same time, it added a nice variety in register that was not present before, so it was a blessing in disguise.

The "Porta Barrios" movement of "Guatemaya" turned out to be just under 2 minutes. The movement interchanges the short motivic ideas with the rolled notes derived from the more lyrical theme. Thinking about this movement got me thinking about what I feel is a problem with much contemporary music. I feel that the good music has a balance between good craftmanship and, for the lack of a better description, has "memorable" quality. Good craftmanship is present in most contemporary music, but one of the things I feel is a problem is that many composers loose their sense of proportion. They get so carried away with the craft that their ear just doesn't tell them when it is time to change to a contrasting idea or end what they have done. The "memorable" quality is often lacking because they loose sight of the principals of Gestalt Psychology, which have documented how the human brain remembers. I strongly encourage everyone to read John Winsor's book "Breaking the Sound Barrier: An argument for Mainstream Literary Music". He has an excellent discussion of this approach. Because "Porta Barrios" uses short motivic ideas to create variety, I use the lyrical line as way of creating unity. The are many well-crafted variations of the motivic ideas, most of which the listener will not be aware of. What the listener will perceive, however, is a sense that things a similar, but not exactly alike. I feel that the movement has a good sense of proportion and after the ideas were developed, it was time to stop and move on to a contrasting movement.

I am awaiting feedback from Meggie Aube regarding the practicality of performing sections of this movement. I have written for marimba before, but because I am not a percussionist, I am concerned that I will write something that could be made easier without loosing the effect I am aiming for. I heard a radio announcer introduce a clarinet concerto by Louis Spohr by saying he was not a clarinetist but a violinist and wrote the piece as if he was writing for violin. This caused clarinetists to stretch their technique. I am all for composer's and musicians collaborating to expand the capabilities of and instrument. Yet I think it is irresponsible for a composer to write whatever they want and let the performers figure out how to make it work, especially if there is another way to write something and achieve the same goal. I remember the brass players of the Lancaster Symphony complaining a few years back about playing a piece that was selected for their Composer's Award Concert that was page after page of extremely high tessitura. Yes, the notes are on the instrument, but brass players need to rest. Just because a computer can play it, doesn't mean that people can. So my advice is to check with several musicians to see if they all have the same opinion. If they do, maybe the composer needs to re-examine how to create the effect he/she is looking for.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sonata for Clarinet Movements 2 & 3

I have finished transcribing my Sonata for Viola and Piano for Clarinet and Piano this morning. While working on this piece, I realized why I am so enamored with this project. I feel this composition is one of my best and it is great to see it getting new life. I think clarinetist will be more open to learning a new piece than violists and it transcribed very well.

The second movement is an example of my lyrical best and the interplay between clarinet and piano makes this a true duet. The opening theme (Measures 1-13) appears as a variant at measure 20-27. Both these sections end with a rapid 32nd note motif that becomes an important development idea. It often appears with an expansive line that begins with the M7th interval. At measure 30, the meter change to 12/8 ushers in a transformation of the 32nd note motif that interplays with the M7th motif creating an entire section that continues to develop these ideas. Measure 54 returns us to the opening material and the movement ends with a rubato section.

Again, my main focus was changing the articulation to fit the clarinet. The rubato section had double and triple stops that I divided among the clarinet and piano.

The third movement brings the piece to an exciting close. I find it amazing when I come back to a work, I discover how well constructed it is. I am amazed because I don't consciously create this construction, rather my ear dictates what comes next. For example, when I wrote the grace note motif at the beginning of this movement, I had no idea it would play such an important role in the coda. The movement is in arch form ABCBA. The C material is the introduction to the first movement at a faster tempo therefore giving the entire piece unity. Once again, the interplay of lines between clarinet and piano has a true duet quality.

In adapting this movement, I had two note that were too low for clarinet. Rather than moving those notes up an octave, I preserved the line by using different pitches. Pizzicato was changed into staccato. The repeated notes at the end were changed into a scalar pattern.

If you have any questions about what I did, please send me a comment. I hope you enjoy this work as much as I do.

The score I am posting has the clarinet part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/sonataforclarinetblog.html

Dr. B

Monday, November 19, 2007

Starting Work on Guatemaya

Today, I began to work on the solo marimba piece for Meggie Aube called Guatemaya. Yesterday, I did more web research to find out more about Guatemalan and Mayan music. I was able to listen to quite a few examples and the piece is beginning to formulate in my mind. As a composer, I often listen to music as a way of helping me get ideas for a composition. I do not copy what I hear, but rather use it as a source of inspiration to trigger my ideas. I remember working on my doctoral dissertation, which was a composition for choir, organ and brass based on parts of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and Kennedy's Inaugural Address and being stuck. I listened to Howard Hanson's Song of Democracy and all of a sudden ideas on how to proceed came to me. With Guatemaya, I knew I did not want to directly quote Guatemalan music. Rather, I want to create a piece that is my impression of places in Guatemala that are influenced by the sound of Guatemalan music.

The first movement is titled "Porta Barrios" which is a bustling port on the Caribbean. The first part of the piece is rhythmic and syncopated. There is no real melody as such. My ear just created some short motivic ideas that seemed to go together well and I developed these. The first motif occurs in the right hand of measure one. I extract the 2 eighths, eighth rest, 2 eighths syncopated figure and begin to use that in various ways measure 3-11. The left hand in measure 4, which first is an accompanying idea, takes one its own life in measures 8 & 9. The first 3 notes of measure 5 also becomes a motive for development as the intervals are shrunk in measure 6, turned upside down in 7 and 11, and the figure is extended in measure 13. A contrasting, more melodic idea makes its presence in measures 14 & 15 as a resolution of this rhythmic section. The lyricism will dominate the next section but will alternate with eighth note rhythmic patterns.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sonata for Clarinet 1st Movement

I am back posting after a three days of trying solve problems associated with updating the operating system on my MAC. I anticipated things would take awhile, but nothing like I experienced. The new operating system is going to be great as it enables me to run both Windows and OS X on my computer. One of the things I hope to accomplish is being able to print 11X17 booklets directly from my computer to my photocopier. What I didn't anticipate was the lack of compatibility between the new OS X and my software. For example, my MIDI interface driver needs to be updated but M-Audio hasn't updated it yet for Leopard. It is in the works, but for the meantime, my keyboard can't enter notes into Sibelius! Fortunately I had recently bought an Oxygen 8 MIDI Controller for composing while traveling and that works fine. One lesson I learned is to wait until something new is out 6 months before purchasing it. That way supportive technologies have a chance to get caught up.

I have completed the first movement of the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano that I am transcribing and adapting from my Sonata for Viola and Piano. In addition to changing the slurs and adjusting the range as needed, I made two other changes. The first was to put the notes of the pizzicato triple stop in measure 86 into the piano right hand. I tried arpeggiating these notes for the clarinet in various rhythms, but was not pleased with the effect. The second change was with the next to last measure. The viola stays on one pitch, which worked for viola because the repeated notes crescendoing drove nicely to the end. I felt that it did not work as well for clarinet so I move the notes around a bit. I first tried a descending scale, but that ran in parallel fourths to the piano and sounded weak. I then tried an ascending scale. That had a good drive, but I really wanted a descent at the end. That lead me to what I wrote which had elements of drive and descent.

When I wrote the Sonata for Viola, I was conscious to use a lot of the lower register of the viola so that the piece sounded like a viola sonata and not a violin sonata played on viola. I kept that quality in the transcription using a lot of the low and middle registers of the clarinet which gives the piece a dark rich quality. The use of the upper register is reserved for climaxes and special colorations.

It is also interesting to revisit an earlier work to see how I constructed the piece. The first movement is a sonata form. The slow introduction is not directly related thematically to the allegro, but it does set a flavor for the use of fourths and fifths and wandering tonality of the movement. The first allegro theme is more agitated than the lyrical second theme. A transition sets up the 2nd theme by ending on the opening motif (m. 49 & 50)of the 2nd theme which begins at M. 54. The development section develops both themes. The recapitulation enhances the melody slightly on the return.

The score I am posting has the clarinet part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/sonataforclarinetblog.html

Dr. B

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Piece for Marimba, etc.

Well, I haven't even had time to load the new operating system on my MAC yet.I need a time when I don't have anything pressing to do as I worry that all my software may not be compatible with the new operating system. Maybe next week will be a better time to try things out.

Over the weekend, my publishing company was doing the judging for our 2007 Chamber Music Recording Competition and as a result, we have selected three excellent recordings of my chamber music as prize winners. We are planning an April 2008 CD release of the third volume of my solo and chamber music that will include these recordings as well some others on our subsidiary, Emeritus Recordings. If you haven't checked out our previous releases, go to http://www.cooppress.hostrack.net/emeritus.html

I have heard back from Meggie Aube regarding the marimba piece I am planning for her. Here is her response:

Hi Sy,
Thank you very much for writing me and filling me in on the process so far. I am very excited that you will start writing soon. To answer your question, I am able to play other percussion instruments, and I also have access to other percussionists if you would like to write two separate parts. I would also like to let you know how the rest of the recital is progressing. As you know, I will be playing your piece on my Masters Degree recital. I really like to create themes for recitals and try to connect the pieces together in interesting ways. The theme of my recital is going to be "primal urges" which is an interesting concept for percussion because it is so natural and is found in every culture. I think that your piece being based around Guatemalan ideas will fit nicely in the program. I look forward to working with you on this project. Thanks!

Meggie Aube

It is exciting when my creative ideas fit so nicely with what the performer is looking for. I still have more research to do regarding Mayan and Guatemalan music before beginning this piece. But I miss composing, as it has been about a week without writing a new note. There are times where I need to spend most of my time planning for new projects and working on details of previous projects. I did start to work on transcribing the viola sonata for clarinet. Most of what I am doing with that piece is working on articulation and adjusting the range as needed. There were a few spots where the viola part went lower than what a clarinet can do, so I was finding the most appropriate spot to bring the clarinet line up an octave. In string music, the slur line is often used to indicate what notes are to be played in a down bow or up bow. I am changing the use of the slur to indicate what notes are to be played without the use of the tongue on the clarinet part. It also indicates places for possible breaths. As you can see, the nature of the instrument changes the way the part is notated. When I finish this process, I'll post links to the viola sonata and the transcribed clarinet sonata so that you can compare the versions. This is almost a 20 minute piece, so it will be a while before I complete the transcription.

As you can see, the life of a composer is spent doing many other things besides writing music. And all this is besides my personal life that gets hectic at times. It is always a challenge to find time for all the things that are important. I am certainly not unique in this regard, but fortunately I am blessed with excellent organization skills, without which, I would probably only get half as much done.

Dr. B.

Friday, November 9, 2007

New piece for marimba

The next piece that I'll be composing is a composition for marimba for Meggie Aube, a doctoral candidate in percussion performance at the University of Iowa and a recent recipient of a Co-op Press Fund Commission Assistance Grant. I thought I would post my email to her about my idea for the piece and I hope to follow up with some of the exchange that goes on between composer and performer during the creation of a piece of music. Here is my email to Meggie:

Hi Meggie,

I'm getting ready to start composing the composition for you and I am looking forward to the opportunity. I was looking for a source of inspiration for the piece and decided that I would start first with finding out more about the marimba. When I did my search, I discovered that the marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala! So I began to read about Guatemala and its music and found that the ancient Mayan culture is a large part of that country's history and many of its residents are descended from the Maya's. That is when the idea for a title struck me. I am calling the piece Guatemaya. It has a nice ring to it and is descriptive of what I plan to compose.

My wife had spent some of her high school years in El Salvador and had visited Guatemala so I asked for help in identifying impressionable places that might make interesting movements. Between her guidance and further web searching, I came up with the following possibilities:

Tikai - An ancient Mayan city with two surviving temples
Lake Atitlan - A deep blue volcanic lake
Chichicastenango - a small city with a famous, colorful native marketplace and colorful religious processional
Porta Barrios - A Caribbean seaport

I am thinking of writing music descriptive of these places that also may be influenced by Guatemalan music. I have more research to do in this area. At the present time, I am thinking of a piece for solo marimba as it would be easier for you to present this piece in various venues throughout Iowa as you expressed in your application for a commission grant. But I am also hearing various percussion sounds. Do you play other percussion instruments so that I could write for things like rattles, etc in short passages in a primarily marimba piece? I also may include a separate percussion part. I am leaning in this direction but want to check to be sure you have easy access to a percussionist who can perform with you.

Please let me know your thoughts about this idea. I have created a blog about my daily composing activities and I post a link to files where viewers can see and hear my compositions as they are being created. I am posting this email there and would also like to post your response, as I think it would be interesting for readers to get a sense of the collaboration that goes on between composer and performer. I also hope that you follow along with the blog and let me know your thoughts as the piece develops.

I am looking forward to hearing from you and to getting started on the piece.


While I am waiting for her response, I will be writing over my Sonata for Viola and Piano for Clarinet and Piano for Yasmin Flores, another doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa, this time in clarinet performance. Yasmin received a Recording Grant from the Co-op Press Fund for a CD release on Emeritus Recordings. I'll also be uploading Leopard, the latest MAC operating system on my computer so hopefully all will go smoothly. First, I want to back-up my computer (which I do regularly) and organize my files to make more space on my hard drive as I will also be loading Windows XP as part of the new MAC operating system. Technology is wonderful but it does take time making sure everything works smoothly. If my blog posting disappears for a while, it is because I have been busy with symphony rehearsals and concert and working on my computer.

Dr. B

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

8th Movement (End of Microcosms)

I haven't posted for a while because it has been a very busy playing weekend for me with three 3-hour rehearsals and a symphony concert. Despite all that, I was able to plug away at the 8th movement, which I have titled "March of the Ants". This march had both a combination of seriousness and playfulness which suggested the title. The playfulness comes from imagining ants marching to this music and the seriousness is the idea that the industriousness and tenacity of ants as a microcosm of that side of human nature.

I began the movement with a one measure piano introduction in 3/4 using dissonant sounds in contrary motion. I though this set up the mostly 4/4 march well. I continued by creating a steady bass line in the piano left hand and rhythmic echoes in the right hand underneath the saxophone quarter notes and steady rhythm in both hands underneath the saxophone triplets. In previous posts, I have talked about carrying an idea through to see where it takes you. I have done that a lot in this movement. By doing this, unity is created. But the question might arise regarding "when does one stop carrying through the idea?" The best way I can answer this is that the ear must be the guide. There are times I can carry an idea further with slight alteration of the pattern. For example, if I am using chords in perfect 4ths, maybe I can keep it going further when it doesn't seem to fit, by changing to its inversion a perfect 5th, or writing an augmented fourth instead. My ear tells me if this is necessary. For example, if you examine the bass line in measures 2-6 you will notice that it moves scalewise most of the time. In measure 4 the pattern is broken as it goes down a third to Eb on the 4th beat insteed of keeping the pattern and going up to Ab. The Ab was already in the chord and my ear told me I needed to go to a note not in the right hand of the piano or the saxophone line. The Eb was the perfect solution. It adds a little variety to the mostly scalewise line therefore creating interest. It is this process of trying maintain unity yet look and hear places where variety is needed is what my composing is all about. It functions on many different levels like melody, rhythm, meter, dynamics, articulation, etc. as well as many levels simultaneously. A developing composer or listener might examine music at the different levels separately first before trying to put it all together.

At measure 7, the right hand of the piano now goes along with the saxophone line while the left hand plays the scalewise bass line twice as fast. This is unity and variety happening simultaneously. Measures 8 & 9 has the right hand of the piano playing triplets against the saxophone's quarter notes and then as an echo to the saxophone. Measures 11-13 uses 3 part imitation. The material is then used in a similar manner to what has been discussed until measure 22 where the left hand of the piano anticipates on beat 2 the 4 16th note motif used in the saxophone on beat 4. This motive is repeated in measure 23. In measures 24 & 25, the piano uses the introduction material to accompany the wide intervals of the saxophone. I had no idea when I wrote the introduction that I would use that material again, but it seemed to fit at this climax. Ideas that were presented earlier are now combined in the last four measures bringing the movement and piece to a fitting end.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

7th Movement

I called the 7th Movement "Four A.M." because I think the title captures the loneliness I envision of someone walking the streets all alone. This can be seen as a microcosm of all the times we feel alone in the world. To capture this mood, I made the piano part very harmonic, not in the sense of chord progressions, but more as color chords. I derived a lot of the chord structures from the notes of the saxophone melody. I first tried to decide where I wanted the chords to change and then I put the notes of the saxophone line together harmonically for those beats. Sometimes I used only some of the notes and other times I added notes not in the saxophone line. The wide spacing between the left and right hands also adds an air of vagueness. I used my ear to find the sounds that I wanted. Some of the chords were derived by linearly moving the piano part to create a pattern or line itself (for example measures 7 & 8). The other thing I did with the harmony was to have it anticipate the saxophone part with the change of chord (measures 1 & 2). The piano occasionally imitates part of the saxophone line (measures 3, 17, 19, 20). In measure 9 the piano has running 16th notes that help intensify the climax, and in measures 10-13, the piano left hand is a key element in relaxing the tension and serves as a countermelody to the saxophone. Therefore my piano part is a combination of many different techniques that create variety for the listener and support for the saxophone line.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sixth Movement

Before talking about movement 6, I thought I'd talk about my title for movement 5. This whole experience with titles is unusual for me as I often have titles before I compose the music. Since I am using a previous composition that did not have movement titles as the basis of this composition, I have the challenge of coming up with titles after the music is written. When listening to the 5th movement again this morning, the use of imitation triggered an image of a mime mirroring a person's actions in a humorous manner. Then the image of Charlie Chaplin came to mind and I decided to name the movement after him. I think that Charlie Chaplin represents our need to laugh and therefore he is a microcosm of the playful side of human nature. Sometimes he is witty and other times he is pure slapstick and I think there are elements of both in this movement.

I originally thought that movement 6 would be playful, but after adding the piano part, I felt that this movement reminds me of a storm that is constant in its relentlessness and that has peaks of activity. After the storm leaves, all seems peaceful and quiet again. I have called this movement Tempest, being a microcosm of the fickleness of nature. Syncopation plays an important role in the saxophone part so I built on that idea for the piano. The first three measures introduce the hemiola rhythm in the right hand of the piano while the left hand mirrors the saxophone part. The roles are reversed in measures 4 & 5 and then reversed back again in measures 6 & 7. The accompaniment becomes more sparse in measures 9-13 as it just fills in during rests. I use the interval of the 4th a lot for the harmony although once again, it is not chord progressions that I am after, rather just coloristic sounds. Measure 14 is one of the climaxes of the movement and arpeggiated 16th notes are used at this point. The accompaniment is like the beginning in measures 16-22. Measure 23 begins a 4 measure imitation of the saxophone line but a contrary motion bass line is added in the piano part. Measures 26-30 are added measures where I use material from 16-20 but the hands of the piano and the saxophone have different roles than the previous statement. The last two measures represent the fickleness of the calm after the storm.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Monday, October 29, 2007

5th Movement

This morning's work went quite easily. I decided to have the saxophone play the 1st four measures by itself and then I repeated those four measures in the piano. I first added a mostly staccato scale-wise bass line but changed to a slurred line in contrary motion in two spots (measures 6 and 8). I also filled in the harmony in measure six as well. These are not any particular chord progressions but just sounds I thought worked well both vertically and horizontally. In measure 7 on the last beat, I have the left hand imitate what the right hand did one beat before. In measures 9-13, the left hand of the piano follows the saxophone part canonically down an octave and a beat later. In order to keep the clarity of this imitation, I did not bring the right hand of the piano in until measure 13 where it imitates the saxophone part up an octave and one beat later. After all the chromaticism, the movement ends quietly and ironically in Bb minor.

I am really at a loss as to the title for this movement. It sounds, witty, sarcastic, and ironic, but I haven't found an appropriate microcosm for this mood. Once again, I ask my readers for their assistance.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Saturday, October 27, 2007

4th Movement

I have not been getting any help from my readers regarding titles, so I am coming up with some ideas on my own. I titled the fourth movement Hiroshima as a microcosm of man's inhumanity to man. I think that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima illustrates the kind of destruction of lives and property that we are able to inflict. I know that by dropping the bomb we were suppose to save many more lives than were lost, but the magnitude of this event and what we are capable of ( Post WWII Cold War and now terrorism) is what I feel is portrayed in this movement.

The angular saxophone line with its frequent use of altissimo register is what suggested the type of piano part I wrote. The piano uses the register extremes as well. In the beginning, the register extremes suggest the devastation. The piano lines move chromatically for the most part, but I break that pattern as needed for variety and to support the other lines with the appropriate harmony. At measure 5, the saxophone trill from the end was incorporated as a an accompaniment feature in the piano right hand while the left hand remains chromatic. At measure 7, I changed the 3/4 to 4/4 to add silence before leading into this quieter section with the piano right hand at the top of the keyboard. Dynamic contrast is also at the extreme in this movement as if one is screaming in the loud sections and staring in disbelief in the soft sections. Also beginning at measure 7, I introduce some ties and later syncopation to disguise the regular beat pattern. I made the tempo slightly slower in this section as well in order to create a quiet intensity. At measure 8, the piano begins to mirror the saxophone part as it is less chromatic. Measures 12-14 return the mood to the scream, but the piece ends with a quiet saxophone trill leaving us hanging with regards to the future.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Thursday, October 25, 2007

3rd Movement

I have tentatively titled the third movement "Apiary" as I see it as a microcosm of our busy and hectic 21st century lives. I am still going back and forth between "Leprechauns" and "Puck" as the title for the 2nd movement. I have been reading more about the history of Puck and even though his early associations are with the devil, Shakespeare made him more fairy-like. Maybe this movement is a microcosm of the devilish, trick-playing side in all of us. Help me out here by letting me know your thoughts.

Anyway, back to movement III. I added a two measure rhythmic introduction in the piano to open this movement and increased its tempo from 120 to 144. The piano left hand alone accompanies the first two measures of the rapid saxophone line. It has wide angular intervals befitting of the tension caused by our hectic pace. The rhythmic introduction is used to accompany the next two measures of the saxophone part but the chords are no longer static. There is gradual movement in each hand therefore adding tension. When the saxophone becomes more march-like in measure 7, the right hand of the piano does the busy saxophone line from measures 3-5 with a little punctuation added by the left hand. In measures 11 & 12, the piano returns to a fragment of the introduction underneath the FF sustained notes in the saxophone. The saxophone has a measure by itself before there is a recapitulation of measures 3-6. I now double the piano line in the right hand for added strength as we are approaching the end. The piano has the last comment on our busy lives by sustaining an unsettling diminished fifth echoed by the right hand fragment of the introduction refusing to stop.

I originally thought that I would be adding a lot to these pieces, but I have only added some brief introductions and an interlude here and there. Even though I am revising a much earlier composition, I find that they are very compact and intense short movements. They are almost Webernesque, where everything that needs to be said is stated over a very short period of time. We will see if the other movements hold true to form or whether they will be expanded more than I have already done to movements I-III.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2nd Movement and request for help

I have completed the second movement but before I discuss what I did, I thought I’d explain the title “Microcosms” and request your (the reader) help in finding names for the rest of the movements. A microcosm is a diminutive, representative world; a system more or less analogous to a much larger system in constitution, configuration or development. My dictionary uses the illustration of a town meeting being a microcosm of American democracy. I named the first movement “Nebulae” representing what I picture cosmic gas and dust, with its contrasting light and dark appearance, would sound like if the visual image was translated into sound. It can be thought of as a microcosm of the universe. I have named the second movement “Leprechauns” because to me, it sounds witty and impish, an idea I associate with these legendary Irish fairies. They can be seen as a microcosm of a part of humanity that is playful, sly, and hoards wealth.

By now, you can get a sense that there is a lot of poetic license in coming up with the titles. I’m looking for interesting titles that reflect what the music is about and that have a microcosm relationship. Below is a description of the nature of each movement as I perceive it:

III – busy with pompous interludes
IV. Very intense
V. Schizophrenic
VI. Playful
VII. Lonely – lyrical
VIII. March-like

So send me your comments with your ideas.

Movement II – Leprechauns begins with a staccato accompaniment in the first two measures. Notice how the left hand in measure 2 imitates the descending scale of the piano right hand in measure 1. The saxophone melody has four motifs, measures 2,3,4, and 6 respectively. They are constantly juxtaposed to create the entire saxophone line. The piano accompaniment interplays with these motifs, sometimes by supporting them with something similar and other times being imitative. Chords in fourths and triads wander freely with regards to tonality, so freely in fact that is difficult to decide whether I should use sharps or flats for the clearest notation. During the last 8 measures, imitation predominates leading the to quiet, magical ending.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Monday, October 22, 2007

A New (Recycled) Piece for Saxophone and Piano

The next piece that I am writing is a commission from Stacy Wilson, Associate Instructor of Saxophone at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. It is to be for Alto Saxophone and Piano and I have decided to recycle and older work of mine into a new one. Many composers recycle their music into new pieces for many different reasons. One is time constraints or having produce something for an upcoming performance and not having a lot of time to do it. Another is giving a piece new life through varying its instrumentation. A third reason is because the material has much musical merit and potential that may not have been fully exploited in its first usage. And a fourth reason is that the composer has matured and can find better ways of using the older material. In the case of the piece I am writing for Stacy,I feel that the last three reasons apply.

The piece that I am recycling is one that actually began its life as a set of pieces I composed for my oboist wife (then girlfriend) in 1966 and later were expanded into a work called "Micro Pieces" for solo saxophone that was dedicated to James Houlik. I plan to expand these again by adding a piano part and lengthening some of the movements. I am also changing the title to "Microcosms" and each of the movements will have a title as to what "mini-world" it represents.

For those of you who have been following my blog since its inception and have been listening to my music, you may realize that my preferences are towards music based in the traditions established prior to the mid-20th century. But as a composer and musician, I am aware of other compositional directions and will adapt my compositional style as needed in order to express what I am trying to communicate with each piece of music. In the case of "Micro Pieces" now "Microcosms", my melodic language is more angular and atonal. There is still an emphasis upon melody and rhythm, but the ideas change more rapidly and there is a greater emphasis on sudden contrast.

In order to add a piano part that is consistent in style with the melodic ideas in movement one, I chose to write a very coloristic piano part. In measure 2, the piano begins by reinforcing the forte of the saxophone crescendo in measure 1 with a diminished 7th chord. It then fills in the sustained saxophone g with a sextuplet with both hands in contrary motion creating intervals of sevenths and thirds that have root in the melodic interval of the saxophone on beat 1 of the measure and in the triad that accompanies it. The 3rd and 4th beats echo the saxophone from beats 1 & 2 and incorporate the diminished 7th chord once again. A coloristic G# trill in the piano right hand gives background to the repeated quarter note saxophone motif that was totally unaccompanied in measure 1. Afterbeats in the left hand of the piano again suggest the diminished 7th chord. Measure 4 consists of a rolled diminished 7th chord followed by the sextuplet again. Chords in 4ths accompany measure 5 which is followed the right hand of the piano in measure 6 and 7 playing an extension of the saxophone motif of measure 5 and 6. It is turned into straight 16th notes and varies its pitch content as it ascends, finishing once again with the outline of a diminished 7th chord. The use of the extreme ends of the piano add color and keep the accompaniment from obscuring the saxophone line as it is in totally different registers. These basic ideas continue through the rest of movement which ends with the piano doing the eighth dotted quarter rhythm from measure two, but this time as a diminished 5th instead of a minor 7th. This is a very tightly constructed movement, but hopefully has interest from the way the colors are used.

I have titled this movement Nebulae, as it reminds me of pictures I have seen of cosmic dust.

I work in concert pitch, but the score I am posting has the saxophone part transposed.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/microcosmsblog.html

Dr. B

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The end of Suit Suite

Yesterday I finished “Suit Suite” but did not have time to post until today. I still plan to review the entire work over the next few days before I call it my final version. A little distance from the work usually gives me a different perspective on what I have written.

It took me two work sessions to finish Diamonds and then compose the Clubs (War) section of the piece. Diamonds ended with 3 measures of syncopated chords (measures 191-193) leading into an extension of the chromatic counterpoint section (measures 194-195). This builds into a long flutter-tongued chord (measures 196-197) that climaxes at the beginning of the Clubs (War) section. Clubs turned into a symbolic battle between the tubas and euphoniums. The opening repeated note figure that first occurs in measures 198 and 199 represents shooting. It goes through many transformations as the section unfolds, but has its most prominent role in the opening half. The two sides of the war identify themselves early. The first euphonium motif occurs at 199 & 200 and is immediately varied in measure 202. The tubas have two early motifs, one at measures 201 and 202 and the other at measures 203 and 204. The sides battle back and forth with “shooting” interruptions. A change of tonal center with the “shooting” motif at measure 210 ushers in new motivic ideas for both sides. The new euphonium motif at measures 211 & 212 is a canonic idea. The new tuba motif at measures 215 & 216 starts out like a rhythmic variant of the first euphonium motif, but it is extended and more forceful. The battle intensifies beginning at measure 219 where both sides present their motifs simultaneously. Notice the dynamic differences as this is intended to represent the ebb and flow of the battle. At measure 226, the battle begins to wind down for a brief respite, before taking off again at measure 231 in a slightly faster tempo. The piece ends powerfully without any clear indication that the war was won by either side.

I think it was a subconscious act that nobody wins this war, as I believe that most wars are senseless. If we spent as much money trying to alleviate the causes of the war as in trying to win it, there would be less pain and suffering. I usually do not end my compositions with a negative feeling, but “Suit Suite” actually represents the cycle of life. Although the piece presents the suits in order from high to low, their associations could be in almost any order. So even though the piece ends musically with war, it is as if the cycle continues with war (clubs) bringing death (spades) and out of ruin, springs life and love (hearts). Eventually, the craving for wealth (diamonds) and the power it brings, leads us back to war (clubs). The only way to break the cycle is to respect humanity and treat others as our friends and find ways to help all people dig their way out of hopelessness. So as I write this, maybe it is appropriate for “Suit Suite” to end with Clubs (war) as maybe it will imply a need to break the cycle.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/suitsuiteblog.html

Dr. B

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Diamonds continued

It has been a few days since I have posted. There are times when it is challenging to find the time to compose regularly although that is what I prefer to do. But I am also a performing musician and there are times when I get very busy with performing responsibilities, that composing takes a back burner. That has been my challenge the past few days. I have been working in short spurts and did not have enough to post to my blog until today.

In addition, I have been struggling with the Diamonds section. My initial ideas came easily, but developing the movement has been hard work with a lot of revision. The way this section is going together is my adaptation of a technique I ran across on a CR ROM by Morton Subotnick called Making Music. It a composition program designed for young kids and a part of it has short motivic ideas that can be put together in any order by the young composer in order to create a piece of music. In Diamonds, there are three main ideas; the lyrical waltz melody, the dotted eighth sixteenth followed by one or two short notes motif, and the overlapping chromatic motif. I jump back and forth between these three ideas and vary them when they return by adding to them, changing their meter, or combining them together. The problem I have been running into is the lack of direction this section has. It just seemed to wander around and I couldn't figure out what exactly was wrong. I liked the material well enough, but felt it was not coming together the way I intended. I wish I could illustrate all the things I tried and rejected, as I think it would be very informative to composers. There is an excellent recording done by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic where Bernstein takes discarded sketches from Beethoven's 5th Symphony and inserts them where he thinks Beethoven might have had them. Then the orchestra played these versions and Bernstein discusses why he thinks Beethoven rejected them. Everyone should listen to this recording as it sheds a lot of light on the composing process.

In Diamonds, I was feeling like I needed a break from the continuous waltz rhythm. I accomplished some of this by the meter changes, but I felt I needed to get a break in the thick texture and the continuous jumping between motivic ideas. At measure 150, I inserted 5 measures of just waltz rhythm with a 2/4 thrown in. That helped, but it went into the next idea too abruptly. I then added measure 155 which starts with silence of one beat then triplets leading into the lyrical waltz melody. This little interlude serves as break before the final push to the end of the section.

In my previous post, I was wondering if I wanted separate movements instead of a one movement piece. I am now hearing Diamonds building to a peak and climaxing at the beginning of Clubs (War). After all, isn't the quest for riches and wealth and the power that comes with it the cause of many wars? The smooth waltz seems to represent those with wealth that are oblivious to forces around them who are restless for change. The dotted rhythm motif and the chromatic motif keep interrupting the waltz as a form of foreboding.

I hope that I will complete Diamonds by the end of the week as I have a busy day tomorrow attending some rehearsals of my music and planning a concert my brass quintet is doing with a choral group, then a quintet rehearsal at night.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/suitsuiteblog.html

Dr. B

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hearts into Diamonds

I had a nice rehearsal with the Millersville University Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble on Wednesday as they are preparing my Quartet for Tubas for an October 24th Octubafest program. The students were very responsive to my suggestions and showed a lot of improvement in that one rehearsal. I am looking forward to the Oct. 24th performance. In addition, another performance fell into place with the Lancaster/Lebanon County Orchestra Festival to be held on Feb. 2, 2008. They will be doing my "Gettysburg Portrait". I always enjoy writing for and working with educational groups to help expose them to some contemporary sounds and treatment of musical material.

Between yesterday and today, I worked on the end of Hearts and the beginning of Diamonds. I am contemplating separate movements again instead of one continuous movement. There are smooth transitions between the first three sections, but I think I want a complete break between Diamonds (Riches) and Clubs (War). I'll know more when I reach that point. The transition between Hearts and Diamonds might need to be changed if I go that route because I am setting up the Diamond section towards the end of Hearts with the dotted eighth - sixteenth , eighth note - eighth rest idea that first occurs at measure 80, again at 85 and extended at 97. The motif at 97 then becomes one of the motifs I use in Diamonds at 99 etc.

When I was thinking generally how I wanted to represent the suits, Diamonds was the one that seemed the hardest. My wife suggested a regal march for riches, but I settled on a waltz rhythm. I envision a regal ballroom and people swirling across the floor alla 19th century Vienna. So opposite the dotted motif is a flowing line that appears first divided among the tubas and then in the 1st euphonium and 1st tuba. This is often accompanied by a flowing 1 2 (3) rhythm in the other tubas. The harmony is luxurious as well, being chords in fourths, seventh chords, etc. Again my harmony is derived both vertically and horizontally and while it has a sense of tonality, in wanders around a lot.

I extended the rubato section of Hearts by continuing the dialog section and leading it into a reprise of the lyrical melody section in a different tonality before arriving back at the original tonal center.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/suitsuiteblog.html

Dr. B

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Romance continued and other thoughts

Before I continue talking about my recent additions to the Hearts (Romance) section of Suit Suite, I thought I'd talk about some other aspects of a composer's life. Much of the time that I am not composing, I am spending time getting the word out about my music and searching for possible performances. As many of you know by now, I am an avid reader so I often compare a composer's life to that of an author. While there is a similarity in the creative process, the end result is more tangible for the author because the author does not rely on others to make the creative work come to life. Therefore, I am always looking for musicians to perform my music. When that occurs, it is usually a thrilling experience for me and I hope also for the performers. It is a great opportunity for performers to be able have input directly from the composer and I believe it is an experience that should happen on a regular basis, rather than the isolated incidences that occur throughout the music world. For instance, yesterday I was contacted by an orchestra director who is hosting a county orchestra festival. The guest conductor (a friend of mine) would like to do my "Gettysburg Portrait" with the county orchestra and the host wanted to hear a recording. I sent her a performance of the work by another county orchestra and I hope that they will feel it worthy of performance. But this got me thinking. Wouldn't it be great if all conductors of honor music groups would do a piece by a local live composer and have that composer be a part of the festival? That way the students would not only be performing standard repertoire at a higher level then their school music groups but they would also have the thrill of performing a newer work with little or no performance history and have the opportunity to collaborate with the composer as well as with the conductor. This would be the complete music making experience!

Today I also have the honor of returning to Millersville University, where I had taught before retiring, to work with the tuba-euphonium ensemble on my "Quartet for Tubas". I am looking forward to this opportunity to have my music come alive.

With regards to Hearts, one thing I forget to mention in yesterday's post was how I am trying give the musicians an opportunity to breathe. In this section particularly, I want very little break in sound. Try to notice how I alternate phrases between different instruments and often overlap those phrases so there is a more continuous sound. I have the luxury of being able to do this because I am writing for six instruments but rarely use all six at the same time. For the performer, this technique creates more independence in their part and they must use their ears carefully to see how their part fits with the whole. At times a player will have the main melody, and at other times, a harmony part or counter-melody. An good illustration of this is at measures 60 to 77. In this section, I am bringing back material from the first part of the Romance, but I am adding lines to it. I have tried to mark dynamically where the individual lines peak and you will notice that the ensemble does not always peak together. This will be an important balance challenge in rehearsal because the lines cross voices a lot and because of the homogeneous sound of this ensemble. Measure 77 begins a short interlude that is more rubato as if it is a dialog between two lovers. I'm not sure where that will lead, but my mind was getting tired so I knew it was time to stop for today.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/suitsuiteblog.html

Dr. B

Monday, October 8, 2007

Hearts (Romance)

My transition to Hearts is a subtle one. Because the tempo of Spades and Hearts is similar, I am creating variety in other ways. Spades ends in F minor and Hearts begins immediately on a low, sustained E. A pyramid follows the sustained E bringing in the next three higher instruments each time a perfect 5th higher. The entrances occur every beat and a half therefore disguising the basic pulse. The euphoniums enter at measure 45 with a triplet on the third beat, thus created variety from the predominantly duple feel of Spades. The meter patterns change often in this section as well as the use of divisions of 2, 3 & 4. Thus the music flows along without a clear sense of pulse creating a dreamy, romantic mood.

The harmony in this section is rich and frequently modulating. When I create harmony, I often do not have chord progressions in mind. My harmony is a result of linear movement of the lines. I am aware of what is happening vertically, but my concentration is on creating an interesting sounding line. After creating the melodic line, I might work on a bass line first, then fill in the inner parts. Or in the case of the three euphoniums at measure 45, I work the 2nd & 3rd part together, seeing where they want to go. I do have some favorite structures that result: minor triads and 7th chords, chords in fourths and chords in fifths, but I don't limit myself to those structures. I also tend to use chords borrowed from other tonalities and modalities.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/suitsuiteblog.html

Dr. B

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Spades (Death) continued

Today, I was able to complete the first movement. The form turned out to be an Introduction plus ABA'. I began in the B section. I had written measures 20-23 yesterday, but I was not sure where it would take me. I started by repeating measures 20-23 but had the last measure build into the climax at measures 27-29. I also varied the repeat a bit by extending the euphonium line by one note and changing the tuba rhythms to occur a half beat later in measure 25. After the climax, things quiet down in measures 29-32 leading to the return of the A section. This section begins down a minor third from the original statement for the first two measures and then it goes back to the original tonality. Measure 40 leads to a quiet ending instead of crescendoing as it did in the first appearance of A.

Two things occurred to me while working today. The first is the varied emotions one goes through when dealing with death. The introduction has both sadness with outbursts of anger. The first A section is like a dirge that grows in intensity leading the the B section (which begins at measure 21) that has a sardonic laugh (staccato 16th notes) with a building anger. The last A section is dirge-like again, but this time with more of a feeling of acceptance. The second thing I realized was that in all likelihood, this piece will be one continuous movement. I am trying to keep the entire piece around 8-9 minutes. Because of this, there is not a lot of time to develop the ideas and one continuous movement should create more of a sense of continuity. Besides, if you have read my other posts, you know that endings give me the most trouble. So now I only need one ending instead of four! The other endings of the sections will serve as transition instead of endings.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/suitsuiteblog.html

Dr. B

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

First Movement - Spades (Death)

Once I had the idea for the piece and the movements, I started hearing the opening idea, a descending, dark figure using a dotted eighth and sixteenth rhythm. That was all I needed to begin putting notes on paper, so to speak. I am not one of those composers that hears the entire piece from beginning to end and then just needs to notated it. The adage that says composing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration describes how I work. I began in 4/4 but quickly realized that this would be a mixed meter movement. The sustained note in measure 2 cried out for what I call punctuation, a short rhythmic idea that helps fill the space and keeps the piece moving forward. In measure, 3, I developed the dotted rhythm idea into a motive that permeated the first section. It serves as the main melodic idea in measures 3, 5 & 7 and as an accompaniment from measure 9 - 18. This provides a lot of unity to the first section. Measure 4 introduces another motivic idea that is first used as a counter melody to the sustained note in the tubas, and then in permutations at various spots as the movement progresses. See if you can recognize the different ways this motive is used and developed. It serves as a unifying device but it is not repetitive.

At measures 11-14, the first euphonium introduces a lyrical melodic line in 3/4 that is later transformed to 4/4 for the tuba 1 melody in measures 15 - 18. The last note of the 2nd euphonium at measure 14, I originally had as a G. When playing the music back, I found that the G did not provide any pitch variety for the tuba 1 entrance at measure 15. This made the music both harmonically and rhythmically weak. I changed it to Bb and solved the problem. Measures 20-23 are leading me into a contrasting section that I discuss once that section is complete.

My harmonic language thus far includes chords in fourths and a lot of minor triads. I am trying to keep the chords well spaced in the tuba parts in order to have them sound clear as there are an abundance of overtones that can clash easily and cause a muddy sound. This is always a concern with writing for tuba-euphonium ensemble.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/suitsuiteblog.html

Dr. B

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Planning my next piece for Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble

My next composition is a commission from the Kansas State University Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble. I have decided to write for three euphoniums and three tubas which should give me a good balance between the higher and lower instruments of this family.

A few days ago, while I was out walking, I was thinking about this piece and came up with the idea of writing a 4-movement piece based on the card suits. I am not really a card player. My most recent excursion into card playing occurred when my parents moved from California to Pennsylvania to be near my wife and myself as my father's health was failing. My parents lived in a retirement community where my father played duplicate bridge once or twice a day (he was a life master). We knew he was going to miss this, so when they got settled here, I asked him to teach me how to play bridge so that we could play together. After a six week crash course, he said we are ready to go the bridge club. I was never so scared in my life! I understood bidding fairly well, but had know idea how to play the cards once the bidding was over. What was a miracle was that we were leading for almost two-thirds of the tournament and we came in 3rd or 4th. This whole experience was a special bonding time between my father and myself, and although his health was never good enough to play again, I know it gave him great pleasure. I still read the bridge column in the newspaper, although I don't play the game. The point of all this background is that cards have a special place in my heart and writing a piece of music based on the suits sounded like it would be fun to do.

After a brief internet search, I found that spades are associated with death, hearts with romance, diamonds with riches, and clubs with war. This should give me plenty to represent musically. I am thinking about an 8-9 minute piece with each movement about two minutes long and I'm calling it "Suit Suite".

Inspiration for a piece of music can come from many sources. In this case, my inspiration is something extra-musical. In other instances, I just start writing and the music suggests a title and form. I find it easier to compose when I have an extra-musical idea to represent, but the process of working with the material is similar no matter how one gets started. I'll be discussing that process once I begin the piece and will be linking to a score and MIDI performance of what I have written thus far so that the reader can experience the composition process as it occurs. Your comments and questions are always welcomed.

Dr. B

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Preparing Score and Parts for Four Poems

During the past few days, I have been working on the tedious but necessary task of preparing the score and parts to my “Four Poems”. I take a lot of care in doing this as Robert McBride, my composition teacher at the University of Arizona, instilled in me a very practical sense. My goal is to have the score and parts error free. In addition, I am concerned with page turns and inserting appropriate cues. Fortunately, the Sibelius 5 software I use makes all this easier.

One of the big things I have learned is to not print the score until I have extracted and checked the parts. I often find little errors by looking at the parts that I don’t see when looking at the score. For those of you who might be interested in what goes into the final preparation of the score and parts, I have listed the steps below.

1) Decide who will perform using the score and who will have parts. In the case of “Four Poems”, I thought that both the vocalist and the pianist should have scores and the flutist and clarinet could play from parts. The score is 60 pages long so I will use plastic coil binding for ease in page turns. The parts will be printed on 11X17 paper and folded to produce a 12-page booklet. Time for page turns needs to be left on all odd number pages. Sibelius usually does this automatically but sometimes only gives a measure rest, which in my opinion is not enough.
2) I looked at the score to see if there are sections that are primarily in one key. I start out with a neutral key signature. Even though my music is tonal, it changes tonality and modality freely. The only movement that is sort of in one tonality is the third, but I decided to leave it in a neutral key to be consistent. Once I decided this, I used the Sibelius plug-in to add cautionary accidents.
3) The cautionary accidentals usually overlap some notes, so I select all and ask Sibelius to respace the music. This cleans up the score quickly and nicely.
4) I then play through the score looking for anything else that needs cleaning up. Sibelius enables one to grab hold of any symbol and move it.
5) Sibelius enables one to switch back and forth between the score and parts as the parts a created simultaneously. But the parts usually need more formatting than the score. First, I give the bottom of the page a little more space (.8 inches instead of .59) as the default setting usually cuts off some dynamics or expression marks.
6) The next thing I do is select all and respace the part as there is often overlap, even though I did this with the score.
7) I also move things like Rit. & accel. underneath the staff as Sibelius places it above, which is fine for the score, but not for instrumental parts. One can move things on the parts without affecting their placement in the score.
8) I carefully check the parts for notation accuracy and make sure page turns can be accomplished easily.
9) Sibelius has a new feature where one can add cues to the parts but they don’t appear in the score. I try to cue all entrances that follow meter or tempo change or occur after long rests. The goal is to make it easy for the musician to make his/her entrance.

Despite all this care, there usually are some things that slip by, but they usually are minimal.

Dr. B

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

End of poem 4

Well I have arrived at the end of poem 4, but not without struggles. But this is not unusual for me as I usually struggle with endings. This poem was particularly a challenge for several reasons.

The first reason was length. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was halfway through the poem after about a minute of music. I thought when I transitioned to the new meter and slower tempo, that length would not be a problem, but I was wrong. When I finished setting the words the timing was just over two minutes. I was planning to recapitulate the beginning in just the instruments which brought the timing to an appropriate length of 3'20"and the setting of the poem itself was balanced nicely. But after listening to the four poems together, "The Road Not Taken" seemed anti-climatic. That is when I realized that "Annabel Lee" makes a better ending poem than "The Road Not Taken", so poem 3 and 4 are now reversed.

The second problem I had was getting the right mood for the recapitulation. This is the music that is used for the first two verses of the poem which express indecision and doubt. But now I wanted the music to expressive confidence in traveling the road not taken. I started by putting the vocal line first in the flute and then in the piano. For the section where the flute has the vocal line, I developed the line with more activity and put some of the previous flute fills in the left hand of the piano. When the piano took over the vocal line I had the choice of harmonizing it, doubling it in octaves, or creating a canon between both hands. I chose the canon approach. I then worked on the ending itself. I wanted things to quiet down and then end with an ascending figure expressing optimism in the choice. After doing this, things still did not feel right. The piece seem to end to abruptly. After listening over and over, I came to the conclusion that things were too complex throughout this section. I solved this by making the three part canon used in the beginning interlude into a two part canon for piano alone. I also made the last canon (4 parts in the beginning) into a two -part canon as well between flute and piano left hand. Then I simplified the canonic treatment of the vocal line to a combination between canon and supportive harmony. All these simplifications helped me get the correct mood of confidence rather than struggle.

The other challenge I faced in working with this poem was incorporating the audience participation. My original plan was for the audience to say the last three lines. What I came up with was the recitative section at measure 65 leading into the audience speaking only the last line.

It is nice to arrive at the end of the piece. Every time I reach this point, I feel as if I have given birth! It is a long gestation period from initial idea to the last note and I am very emotional involved in the entire experience. At least I didn't have morning sickness! But my work is not over. There are the final refinements and proofreading to get the piece to its printed stage. I'll be talking about that process in next post.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/fourpoemsblog.html

Dr. B

Monday, September 24, 2007

Poem 4 Verse 3

One of the points that I was making in my last post was about being careful not to get stuck in a pattern just because that is what you were planning. In previous posts, I have also urged trying to keep a pattern going as it often can create great continuity in the composition. These two thoughts may seem contradictory, and in a sense they are, but the bottom line is that one needs to let their ear be the guide. The ear tells the composer which of these is needed at any particular time.

As I was listening to what I had written thus far, I was becoming aware of a need for a change of tempo, meter and mood. Verse three seemed more reflective than verses one and two, so I slowed the tempo down and changed the meter to a moderate 3/4. I transitioned into this change by extending the end of the 4 part contrapuntal section that set up a more relaxing section that uses alternating 8th notes, triplet and 16th note patterns. The harmony is more lush therefore the piano plays a primary role. After creating the two measure piano interlude, I concentrated on the vocal line. After I wrote the melody for the first two lines of the verse, I went back to fill in the accompaniment. The piano continues some of its independent lines similar to the interlude but also begins to overlap arpeggiated chords. Some of these arpeggiated chords create a mild bitonality. In order to assist the vocalist with the stronger tonality, I bring in the flute alternating and overlapping with the clarinet on a quiet murmuring figure. The overlap is a continuation of the overlap principle introduced in verse 2 (an example of carrying and idea through for unity).

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/fourpoemsblog.html

Dr. B

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Poem 4 Verse 2

I am back working on setting Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" for the ensemble Conundrum. I want to focus my discussion today on how sometimes solving practical problems often leads to new and exciting ideas. Even though I compose at the computer and use MIDI for playback, I am still very much aware that I am writing for real people. I think some composers loose sight of this and assume that just because the computer can play it back, real musicians can play it too. I am constantly aware of providing rests and places for my musicians to breathe. When I am writing for voice, I make sure the vocal line has points of reference in the instrumental parts. All this had a lot of influence on setting this verse.

I started with vocal line. I like the 5/8 meter for this movement as it provides a nice contrast the the meters used in the other songs. I also felt that it gave a jaunty "traveling music" feel. Sometimes the groupings are 3+2 and other times 2+3. But I was not locked into that meter. There were times where the accents of the words did not fit a 5/8 pattern, therefore I used 6/8 and 4/8. Solving this problem actually created more rhythmic variety. Because of the frequent accent shifts, I tried to have the instrumentalists assist the vocalist by having the intrumental parts line up with the strong parts of each measure without sacrificing the independence of the lines. Even though the accents were in the right place, the vocal line felt frantic at times because there were not enough pause on certain words nor time to breathe. I fixed this by chosing diferent meters for m. 27, 30 & 32 which allowed me to stretch some notes out.

The clarinet begins the accompaniment to the vocal line at m. 23. In m. 25, I wanted to do a sequence of beat one on beat two, but it did not help the vocalist with pitch. By turning the figure upside down, the line became more interesting and supported the vocalist's pitches. By the time I reached m. 27, it was time for the clarinet to breathe, but I still wanted rhythmic movement. I solved the problem by using the flute instead, which creates a color change. The clarinet and flute then alternate while overlapping slightly and the alternation happens quicker as the section progresses, therefore adding energy.If I wasn't concerned about allowing the clarinetist to breathe, I never would have discovered the overlap approach to the accompaniment.

The interlude is similar to the one between the first and second verses, but this time it is 4 part imitation instead of three and the order of entrances is slightly different. I may expand this interlude or save the expansion for the interlude between verse 3 and 4. I'm a little concerned about the length of this setting being short compared to the others as I want it to balance the other three. With two verses set and two to go and the time thus far is slightly over a minute, the piece may end up 2 1/2 minutes. I think it may need to be 3 minutes at least. This challenge I'm sure will help my find something exciting and will make the piece better.

I was reading a novel by Terry Kay during by brief vacation that had this line in the author's note. "Events I have not previously considered appeared magically, and that is the true joy of writing: you are not telling a story; you are discovering one." This is how I feel about composing. Pre-planning and the basic idea you have suggests where the music might go. At the same time, you may discover new things you never expected if you don't get stuck in a pattern. Solving practical performance problems is one of the avenues of discovery. It is always a joy to see where the piece takes me.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/fourpoemsblog.html

Dr. B

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Third Movement "Sacrifice and Compromise"

A sweeping 16th note pyramid effect leads into a descending chromatic line in the strings to open the third movement. At m. 4, the French horns enter with a noble theme representing sacrifice. The sweeping 16th note figure fills in during the long notes in the French horn line. At m. 13, the strings take over the noble melody while the French horns move into a staccato and syncopated figure. This staccato figure becomes the dominant feature of the section at m. 17 while the woodwinds present a chord that grows into a four-note motif. This motif then expands into an English horn melody at 28 while the staccato, syncopated figure accompanies it. The harp also enters with chords used as punctuation. The English horn is used imitatively with the oboe at m. 33 and then the flute and clarinet are used in counterpoint on variants of the English horn line. At 47, the strings do the chord that expands into a four-note motif over the staccato, syncopated idea. At m. 59, the section with the noble French horn melody returns and is slightly expanded before leading into a 6/8 variant of the staccato, syncopated idea. This section at m. 74 develops the single chord to four-note motif. At m. 86, the English horn and a trumpet are used imitatively in a variant of the English horn melody used earlier. From m. 106-149, the number of voices used in imitation increases, as if more and more people are willing to compromise and join in on a solution. At m. 149, the chord to four-note motif idea returns and expands further leading into the noble French horn melody once more. Measure 177 introduces a new expansive theme in the clarinet and viola representing success. Triplet arpeggios alternate with syncopated rhythms to accompany this section. Everything keeps building in intensity leading to the final three measures where a rising pyramid effect followed by the three-note repeated chord from the introduction to the first movement occurs. This time the repeated chord motif creates a sense of triumph rather than foreboding. Throughout this movement, all the variants are also symbolic of compromise, which, in my opinion, is the only way that “global warming” is going to be solved. The issue cannot be ignored!

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.sibeliusmusic.com/index.php?sm=home.score&scoreID=133682

Dr. B

Second Movement “Consequences”

It is Sept. 17th and I am now sitting at a picnic table at our campsite at Assateague National Seashore struggling to see my computer in the bright sunshine and to keep my score from blowing away. Extreme conditions, but nothing like what I’m trying to represent in the second movement.

The movement begins by depicting the barren landscape with open fifths in the violins that are answered by a triplet figure in octaves using the low range of the piano. A solo cello introduces a melancholy theme. The last part of the theme uses the triplet idea from the piano. This triplet idea is expanded in viola and cello at m. 14, by the French horns at 17, by the English horn and bassoons at m. 19, and by the upper strings at m. 21. The harp accompanies the last two instrument combinations to add additional contrast. Most of this section disguises the beat through shifting rhythmic patterns and the use of duple and triple figures. At m. 23, the French horns introduce a syncopated pattern that is joined by the trumpets after one measure. This accompanies a plaintive oboe melody that is later stated in imitative counterpoint with the flute. This section builds in intensity leading to m. 32 where the brass section introduces a 16th note sextuplet figure that is answered by descending and swooping strings. The woodwinds enter with a variant of the plaintive melody but this time it is more intense as this whole section depicts the harsh environment. At 43, the woodwinds take over the repeated 16th note sextuplets and the strings have the woodwind melody that climaxes at 49 on a repeated chord figure reminiscent of the introduction to the 1st movement. A timpani roll returns the listener to a quieter mood while two trumpets in imitation ponder how we have gotten to these challenging living conditions. The movement now reverses itself by returning to the syncopated section and then the rhythmic free section, therefore creating an arch form (ABCBA). The ending sections have been altered slightly to create smooth transitions for the last part of the arch form.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.sibeliusmusic.com/index.php?sm=home.score&scoreID=133682

Dr. B

First Movement “Conflicts”

I wanted to start this movement with a dramatic statement drawing attention to the severity of the issue. I chose the violins for this statement because of their ability to sustain the intensity and their ease in performing wide intervals. It was after I composed this idea that I realized it sounded like a “Native American” cry. After composing the four-measure violin melody, I then looked at places for “punctuation”. What I mean by punctuation is that there are long notes in melodic lines that can be answered by other instruments, in this case the lower instruments doing a three-note repeated figure. The repeated chord figure made its way into all three movements although I had no idea that this would be the case when composing this section. Notice that it occurs once, then twice, and then three times, therefore increasing the intensity. The next thing I heard was a need for contrasting material. The contrapuntal woodwinds and French horn gave me the contrast I needed and it sounded like people arguing. These two ideas alternate and develop throughout the introduction with the counterpoint becoming more complex and the “cry” becoming weaker.

The Allegro begins with tom-toms creating the feel of African drumming. The flute solo and later, the piccolo solo, are modal melodies that have a primitive quality to them being made up of two repeated phrases followed by a contrasting phrase. When the piccolo does this melody at M. 47, the bassoons, cello and double basses are added to the tom-toms giving specific pitches to the shape of the tom-tom line and increasing its intensity. All this is representative of developing nations. The timpani at M. 60 leads into a section using pyramids, swooping lines and richer harmony representing the industrialized nations. The tom-toms fade at the end of this section while melting into the harp chords built in fourths and fifths. Even though the tempo is the same as the opening Allegro, the meter of 2/4 at m. 86 creates a calmer feel. The upper strings introduce a short modal motif that is harmonized in fourths. It is answered by a pentatonic motif in the woodwinds therefore giving this entire section an “Asian” flavor. Both these ideas develop. At. M. 113, an intense string melody, harmonized in close harmony, makes its first appearance. It is answered by an expansion of the pentatonic woodwind motif along with a reminder of the 6/8 African drumming idea in the bassoons and piano. This section grows in intensity again, pointing to conflicts. At m. 155, the piece returns to the industrialized nations music that gets developed further from its initial appearance. This section quiets down with the use of the African drumming leading to a new section that is influenced by Indian Raga. Florid woodwind lines answer the drones in the low strings. The Raga is interrupted several times by the piano playing the African drumming line. The Raga itself expands both in length and in counterpoint until the repeated chords from the introduction interrupt it. A lament from the introduction closes out the movement.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.sibeliusmusic.com/index.php?sm=home.score&scoreID=133682

Dr. B