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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.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Guatemaya - 4th Movement

On Friday and Saturday, I worked on the fourth movement, Chichicastenango. I constantly marvel at the wealth of information available on the internet. I decided to base this movement more on direct quotes of folk songs than the previous movements. The internet made this task much easier than if I had to go to a library for research. Youtube was particularly helpful because I was able to find clips of actually performances of Guatemalan music that people captured on digital video equipment so I felt like I was actually in Guatemala. I also found a Folkways recording of a marimba group playing a tune called Chichicastenango and downloaded it for $.99. With this material at hand, I was able to put together my fourth movement.

I began with an introduction that quotes a brief flute melody heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Te-KwXMF4M&feature=related. After that quote, I then transcribed part of a celebratory instrumental heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL1EXOPG7t4&feature=related. Measures 40 - 86 is a development section of the celebratory song. I used some free material of my own invention and motives from the tune itself and juxtaposed them, and transformed them through modulation, sequence, fragmentation, etc. I then returned to a quote of the introductory folksong (measures 87-92) that has a few notes added. Measures 93-121 contains more repetition and development of the celebratory song. Fragmentation of a motive and an accelerando leads into the statement of the song "Chichicastenango". The recording by Chaplandia can be found at http://www.folkways.si.edu./search/AlbumDetails.aspx?ID=3180#. I adapted it for one player and shortened it to fit my needs. The ending combines parts of the two main songs used in this movement.

When I use folk songs in my music, the challenge is knowing when to leave them in their original form or when to stylize them to bring them closer to the realm of art music. In this movement, I have done some of both. I frequently use folk material in my compositions. I have a set of four Spanish Dances that are my own melodies stylized from characteristics of these dances. I used a similar approach with three Greek Dances I wrote for clarinet and marimba. Even when quoting directly, I often combine one melody with another as in my Civil War Suite. I find that using folk music adds a sense a familiarity to a piece of music and at the same time enables the composer to use his/her craftmanship to present the material in unique ways.

To see and hear what is discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/guatemayablog.html

Dr. B

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