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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.

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

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