Today, I began to work on the solo marimba piece for Meggie Aube called Guatemaya. Yesterday, I did more web research to find out more about Guatemalan and Mayan music. I was able to listen to quite a few examples and the piece is beginning to formulate in my mind. As a composer, I often listen to music as a way of helping me get ideas for a composition. I do not copy what I hear, but rather use it as a source of inspiration to trigger my ideas. I remember working on my doctoral dissertation, which was a composition for choir, organ and brass based on parts of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and Kennedy's Inaugural Address and being stuck. I listened to Howard Hanson's Song of Democracy and all of a sudden ideas on how to proceed came to me. With Guatemaya, I knew I did not want to directly quote Guatemalan music. Rather, I want to create a piece that is my impression of places in Guatemala that are influenced by the sound of Guatemalan music.
The first movement is titled "Porta Barrios" which is a bustling port on the Caribbean. The first part of the piece is rhythmic and syncopated. There is no real melody as such. My ear just created some short motivic ideas that seemed to go together well and I developed these. The first motif occurs in the right hand of measure one. I extract the 2 eighths, eighth rest, 2 eighths syncopated figure and begin to use that in various ways measure 3-11. The left hand in measure 4, which first is an accompanying idea, takes one its own life in measures 8 & 9. The first 3 notes of measure 5 also becomes a motive for development as the intervals are shrunk in measure 6, turned upside down in 7 and 11, and the figure is extended in measure 13. A contrasting, more melodic idea makes its presence in measures 14 & 15 as a resolution of this rhythmic section. The lyricism will dominate the next section but will alternate with eighth note rhythmic patterns.
To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html