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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.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

8th Movement (End of Microcosms)

I haven't posted for a while because it has been a very busy playing weekend for me with three 3-hour rehearsals and a symphony concert. Despite all that, I was able to plug away at the 8th movement, which I have titled "March of the Ants". This march had both a combination of seriousness and playfulness which suggested the title. The playfulness comes from imagining ants marching to this music and the seriousness is the idea that the industriousness and tenacity of ants as a microcosm of that side of human nature.

I began the movement with a one measure piano introduction in 3/4 using dissonant sounds in contrary motion. I though this set up the mostly 4/4 march well. I continued by creating a steady bass line in the piano left hand and rhythmic echoes in the right hand underneath the saxophone quarter notes and steady rhythm in both hands underneath the saxophone triplets. In previous posts, I have talked about carrying an idea through to see where it takes you. I have done that a lot in this movement. By doing this, unity is created. But the question might arise regarding "when does one stop carrying through the idea?" The best way I can answer this is that the ear must be the guide. There are times I can carry an idea further with slight alteration of the pattern. For example, if I am using chords in perfect 4ths, maybe I can keep it going further when it doesn't seem to fit, by changing to its inversion a perfect 5th, or writing an augmented fourth instead. My ear tells me if this is necessary. For example, if you examine the bass line in measures 2-6 you will notice that it moves scalewise most of the time. In measure 4 the pattern is broken as it goes down a third to Eb on the 4th beat insteed of keeping the pattern and going up to Ab. The Ab was already in the chord and my ear told me I needed to go to a note not in the right hand of the piano or the saxophone line. The Eb was the perfect solution. It adds a little variety to the mostly scalewise line therefore creating interest. It is this process of trying maintain unity yet look and hear places where variety is needed is what my composing is all about. It functions on many different levels like melody, rhythm, meter, dynamics, articulation, etc. as well as many levels simultaneously. A developing composer or listener might examine music at the different levels separately first before trying to put it all together.

At measure 7, the right hand of the piano now goes along with the saxophone line while the left hand plays the scalewise bass line twice as fast. This is unity and variety happening simultaneously. Measures 8 & 9 has the right hand of the piano playing triplets against the saxophone's quarter notes and then as an echo to the saxophone. Measures 11-13 uses 3 part imitation. The material is then used in a similar manner to what has been discussed until measure 22 where the left hand of the piano anticipates on beat 2 the 4 16th note motif used in the saxophone on beat 4. This motive is repeated in measure 23. In measures 24 & 25, the piano uses the introduction material to accompany the wide intervals of the saxophone. I had no idea when I wrote the introduction that I would use that material again, but it seemed to fit at this climax. Ideas that were presented earlier are now combined in the last four measures bringing the movement and piece to a fitting end.

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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