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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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

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

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