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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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Piece for Choir

Hello everyone,

Well I have started composing again after a very long break. The break was caused by a lot of house projects that I was doing, my involvement with the Friends of the Kreutz Creek Library, and my work on promoting two recording projects. Be sure to visit the Co-op Press homepage to listen to examples from our latest two releases "Collage" and "Mosaic".

I found that I have really missed composing. I don't know how the rest of you feel, but I feel like a part of me is missing when I am not writing music. I am excited about this piece for mixed chorus, flute, tom-toms, and rattle. When my wife and I were traveling this May and June we stopped at a rest area in Eagle, CO off of Interstate 70. There was a globe at the rest area that was covered with Native American Wisdom regarding living in harmony with the Earth and I photographed the sayings to use in a composition. I have selected four of the sayings, the first being:

Honor the sacred.
Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the elders.
Honor all with whom we share the Earth:
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds,
Winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers,
Plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.

Lakota Instructions for Living

The last line has become the title of the piece. I expect to use the other three sayings to create a one-movement composition and will share them as the piece develops.

I began the piece with a seven measure dialogue between flute and percussion prior to bringing the choir in. This sets the mood of the piece by using a lyrical modal flute idea alternating with more staccato sounds of nature. The percussion adds color and a Native American flavor. When the choir enters, it builds on the modal quality of the flute ideas. In my other choral works, I have been told that I write too instrumentally. No one has really explained what they mean by that, but I conclude it is that I write too independently for the voices. I am being careful to keep the choir in rhythmic unison more than I have in the past. As always, I am being very careful with voice leading to make sure the parts are reasonably easy to sing. There are a few chromatic chords and one use of a passing tone. The men are beginning the section that names the beings that share the Earth. This section is different than most choral writing in that it tries to capture inflections of Native American speaking. I expect to come back to more typical, lyrical choral writing on the last line.

Another unusual aspect of composing this piece is that I am not writing it for a specific group. I am thinking of approaching the new choral conductor at Millersville University where I used to teach to see if he is interested in doing the premiere.

To see and hear what I have composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/walk_in_balance_and_beauty_blog.html

Dr. B