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.
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