It is very refreshing to me as a composer to create pieces that are influenced by various ethnic styles. It keeps my music fresh and every time I work in this manner, I discover new sounds that I may not have previously considered. I have written pieces influenced by Spanish music, Greek music, Indian Raga, and Mayan music to name a few.
The second movement of Goulash is a Flamenco. While the Flamenco is a Spanish song, it does have Gypsy influences. The song is usually accompanied by guitar, but for this piece for saxophone and percussion, I've chosen alto saxophone for the "voice" part and at the suggestion of Andrea, the percussionist, tenor pans or steel drums. Interestingly, the tenor pans have a plucked quality to them that is reminiscent of a guitar. However, rolls are uncharacteristic of the guitar but fall under the concept of artistic license.
The Flamenco uses a scale where the 2nd and 3rd degrees vacillate by half steps. It also has free meter, ornamentation, narrow range (which I ignore to some extent since this is written for instruments and not voices) and repetition of phrases which I turn into repetition of motivic ideas instead. There is also a melancholy mood. The Gypsy influence is felt in a progression of A, Gb, F in F minor (the key I am using) and the style of cante flamenco which is even more expressive and florid.
This is a very challenging piece to write because of its freedom. I'm trying to create free florid ideas yet have them sound connected in some way. The movement begins with the descending progression in the steel pans. I break the triad into a single note followed by two mallets playing a third. I'm limiting myself to two mallets because of technical considerations. This gave me a chance to vary the rhythm and make the opening sound non-metrical. All the rubato of the lines also create a non-metrical feel. The varied rhythms of eighths, sixteenths, sixteenth note triplets and eighth note triplets, along with a quintuplet figure give the music an ornamented and non-metric quality. The quintuplet that first occurs at m. 15 becomes an important unifying factor as the movement progresses. Also at 15, the music becomes more homophonic and less contrapuntal than the beginning. This section is calmer too and is leading into section with a little bit more strict rhythm. I am not sure where this new section will take me. But that is part of the fun of composing. Each piece is a new journey.
To see and hear what I've composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/goulashblog.html
The score is transposed.