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.