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.

Friday, November 9, 2007

New piece for marimba

The next piece that I'll be composing is a composition for marimba for Meggie Aube, a doctoral candidate in percussion performance at the University of Iowa and a recent recipient of a Co-op Press Fund Commission Assistance Grant. I thought I would post my email to her about my idea for the piece and I hope to follow up with some of the exchange that goes on between composer and performer during the creation of a piece of music. Here is my email to Meggie:

Hi Meggie,

I'm getting ready to start composing the composition for you and I am looking forward to the opportunity. I was looking for a source of inspiration for the piece and decided that I would start first with finding out more about the marimba. When I did my search, I discovered that the marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala! So I began to read about Guatemala and its music and found that the ancient Mayan culture is a large part of that country's history and many of its residents are descended from the Maya's. That is when the idea for a title struck me. I am calling the piece Guatemaya. It has a nice ring to it and is descriptive of what I plan to compose.

My wife had spent some of her high school years in El Salvador and had visited Guatemala so I asked for help in identifying impressionable places that might make interesting movements. Between her guidance and further web searching, I came up with the following possibilities:

Tikai - An ancient Mayan city with two surviving temples
Lake Atitlan - A deep blue volcanic lake
Chichicastenango - a small city with a famous, colorful native marketplace and colorful religious processional
Porta Barrios - A Caribbean seaport

I am thinking of writing music descriptive of these places that also may be influenced by Guatemalan music. I have more research to do in this area. At the present time, I am thinking of a piece for solo marimba as it would be easier for you to present this piece in various venues throughout Iowa as you expressed in your application for a commission grant. But I am also hearing various percussion sounds. Do you play other percussion instruments so that I could write for things like rattles, etc in short passages in a primarily marimba piece? I also may include a separate percussion part. I am leaning in this direction but want to check to be sure you have easy access to a percussionist who can perform with you.

Please let me know your thoughts about this idea. I have created a blog about my daily composing activities and I post a link to files where viewers can see and hear my compositions as they are being created. I am posting this email there and would also like to post your response, as I think it would be interesting for readers to get a sense of the collaboration that goes on between composer and performer. I also hope that you follow along with the blog and let me know your thoughts as the piece develops.

I am looking forward to hearing from you and to getting started on the piece.


While I am waiting for her response, I will be writing over my Sonata for Viola and Piano for Clarinet and Piano for Yasmin Flores, another doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa, this time in clarinet performance. Yasmin received a Recording Grant from the Co-op Press Fund for a CD release on Emeritus Recordings. I'll also be uploading Leopard, the latest MAC operating system on my computer so hopefully all will go smoothly. First, I want to back-up my computer (which I do regularly) and organize my files to make more space on my hard drive as I will also be loading Windows XP as part of the new MAC operating system. Technology is wonderful but it does take time making sure everything works smoothly. If my blog posting disappears for a while, it is because I have been busy with symphony rehearsals and concert and working on my computer.

Dr. B

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