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, May 16, 2008

Hep Cats Movement 3

The third movement is called "Tom" and it captures the aggressive, macho characteristics of a tom cat. It is in a fast rock tempo. The way this movement is constructed is by using short motifs that constantly interchange with each other and are varied by tonality, modality, interval, or by extension. I will identify the motifs for you below and leave finding where, when and how they are used up to you.

motive 1 - M. 1 beats 1 and 2
motive 2 - M. 1 beats 3 and 4
motive 3 - M. 2 beats 1 and 2
motive 4 - M. 4 entire measure
motive 5 - M. 7 beats 3 and 4
motive 6 - M. 8 beats 1 and 2
motive 7 - M, 12 beats 3 and 4
motive 8 - M. 14 beats 3 and 4

The overall form is an arch form with a short coda. For the center section M. 31-43, I felt I needed contrast to the outer sections that use the constant juxtaposition of the motives. I briefly toyed with the idea of using a more sustained melody but it didn't feel right. While doing my morning stretching, I was watching the weather channel and for the "Local on the 8's" they had rock music playing in the background that was using a repetitive riff. It was then that it dawned on me that a riff section is what I need to create the contrast. This middle section consists of 3 four measure phrases that are built off of a riff idea.

There are several climaxes throughout this movement. They occur at loud spots and/or high spots and they give the movement direction. Dynamic contrast is very important in making a composition for a solo single line instrument interesting.

I will be taking a real vacation between May 19 and June 27. I will be bringing my keyboard and computer with me as composing for me is very relaxing. I will be posting to my blog sporadically however as the next piece I work on develops. This may be a good time for those fairly new to my blog to read some of the previous posts and share your comments.

To see and hear what I have composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/hepcatsblog.html
The score is transposed.

Dr. B

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hep Cats Movement 2

Today I am posting the completed 2nd movement. Whereas the first movement "Siamese" has a lively and playful, yet sophisticated quality, the second movement "Angora" is mysterious, aloof, and vain.

The movement begins with an angular, yet expressive 7/8 melody suggesting the Angora's superiority complex. This idea is then followed by a staccato, rhythmic ostinato idea in mainly 3/4 suggesting the cat's sneakiness. I commented in my last post about the difficulty in creating counterpoint with a single melodic line. I have played a wonderful piece by Fred L. Clinard called Sonata for Unaccompanied Euphonium that effectively uses counterpoint. He has a low rhythmic figure that is interrupted by a lyrical melodic phrase. The two alternate for an extended time giving the illusion of two separate lines. Even though the don't literally occur simultaneously, it creates the illusion that the bass line is continuing while the lyrical line is being played. I tried to do the same type of thing in this movement except mine is in a slow tempo and Clinard's is at a fast tempo. From M. 16-26, the rhythmic ostinato alternates with phrases of the 7/8 angular melody therefore creating a sense of counterpoint. M. 27-32 uses a variant of the rhythmic ostinato idea. The tempo picks up again for even more variety.

The movement is in an arch form. the apex of the arch is the lyrical line that represents Angora's beauty from M. 33-50. After the climax, we return to yet another variant of the ostinato idea from M. 51 - 64 and then finally back to the 7/8 angular idea to end the arch form AB(A + B) C B' A'.

This movement has a modern jazz ballad flavor, sort of a 3rd stream. The intervals are bluesy, but the inflections are more classical.

To see and hear what I have composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/hepcatsblog.html
The score is transposed.

Dr. B

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New Piece for Solo Eb Clarinet

I have been traveling again, this time to the University of Iowa for a premiere of my "Guatemaya" for marimba by Meggie Aube on her masters recital. We had a nice dress rehearsal together. The challenge was to make adjustments as Meggie had the piece memorized. She had to get the new changes (mainly dynamics and phrasing) into her mind, which is not as easy as marking the music with a pencil. She made the adjustments very quickly however. During the performance, Meggie had one memory slip at the very beginning of the piece, but after that, the performance went smoothly and was well received. While at the U of I, I meet with three graduate students with whom I have written pieces for recording projects.

I began to work on my next commission while in Iowa and finished the 1st movement today. This piece is for William Kelly, who is doing a CD of unaccompanied clarinet music. He wanted a piece for Eb clarinet, although this piece can be done on any clarinet. He also wanted a jazz influenced piece, therefore the title "Hep Cats". The title has double meaning, cats meaning jazz musicians, and also the feline species. I am a cat lover, so several of my pieces have cat titles and descriptions. I am sad to say that the latest member of our cat family "Siegfried" went to cat heaven on Monday. He was 18 years old and we had him for 16 years. He was a black cat with part Siamese in him. Therefore the first movement "Siamese" is written in his memory. It is an upbeat, swing movement and captures the joy "Siegfried" brought us. The other movements will be "Angora" which will be slow, moody and bluesy followed by "Tom" which will be in a rock style and be aggressive.

"Siamese" has a number of motives that are used in a flexible form. The challenge in writing a piece for a single monophonic instrument is that the elements such as harmony, counterpoint, and timbre variation are not readily available. One can hint at these, but the composer has to find most of the variety in the other elements. The movement begins with diatonic swing eighth notes which is the first motivic idea. In the second measure, the triplet motive is introduced, which adds rhythmic variety. These ideas interplay and change tonality slightly. In order break up the constant sound, I wanted a figure that used some rests. M. 7 introduces this motive and is used again, like in M. 10 & 11 for variety. The next motivic idea (M. 15 & 16) is a more chromatic version of the swing 8th notes, therefore adding a modality variation. The last new idea also takes advantage of silence (M 22). These ideas interchange freely as the movement moves towards the climax towards the middle at M. 39 and then again towards a climax at the end.

To see and hear what I have composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/hepcatsblog.html
The score is transposed.

Dr. B