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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, 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

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