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.

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


Matt said...

Very interesting blog, Sy. I didn't have time to go back and read about the beginnings of suit suite, but am looking forward to reading/hearing future additions. Sounds like it's coming along quite nicely so far. Very interesting to know where your inspiration for this piece came from - do you always have some sort of inspiration/idea when starting to write, or do you sometimes just compose for the sake of composing to get the ideas flowing?


Dr. B said...


Nice to hear from you. I usually need to have some idea of what I'd like to compose before starting. Sometimes it is only a general idea, like a fast movement. Other times it is more specific like in Suit Suite. It is hard for me to compose without some sort of inspiration.

Dr. B