Measure 30 begins my setting of words of wisdom from Crowfoot, Blackfoot. The words are:
What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
My goal is to make this section sound ethereal in contrast to the more bold opening. At measure 30, I use pyramids to ask the question "What is life?" The entrances are pianissimo and there are some major second clusters in the first entrance that expand to thirds in the second entrance. The second entrance occurs on beat two instead of beat one like the first entrance therefore shortening the rhythm. I feel these are subtle variations that enhance the listening experience. I originally used ties on the repeated pitches so that each part sang one word, but changed it so that each part is doing the same words to help the text come through clearer. In measures 34 and 35, the pyramids are in a different pattern than the rising pyramids preceding it. You might observe that I vary the texture a lot in this section from one part up to four parts, from unison to harmony, and from homophonic to imitative. I also have sharp changes in dynamics. All this adds to the ethereal quality.
The percussion add color and fill in rhythmic dead spots. The flute does some word painting like being a firefly in measures 36 and 38. It also has a short interlude between measures 41 and 45. At measure 46, the choir has a short imitative section and then repeats the phrase "runs across the grass" with some lush harmony. I noticed when I typed the poem here that I omitted the word "little" in my setting. I tried to put it back in but I like what I wrote too much to change it and I think the meaning of the text is there without the word. I guess I am exerting my artistic license. In measures 54-57, the flute expands upon the syncopated idea in measure 53 to play an interlude that leads to the 3rd saying. The setting of the next section will be prayer-like.
To see and hear what I have composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/walk_in_balance_and_beauty_blog.html