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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.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lan Na Thai 3rd movement

I have been working on this last movement for about 2 weeks and have not posted until now because I was unsure whether what I was writing would work. One of the reasons that I was unsure was because I was using the same pentatonic scale that was used in the other movements and I was concerned that the three movements together would not have enough tonal variety. I did try to incorporate the B and F or F# (4th and 7th tones of the major scale) which were omitted previously to keep the scale more purely pentatonic. This seemed to help, but it is the treatment of the musical material in this movement that creates the needed contrast.

The movement begins with a florid saxophone line that is punctuated by various percussion and flute sounds. At 5'29.1", a two-note motive emerges that becomes an important idea for this slow section. It becomes the basic idea for the transition at the Piu mosso at 6'11/1". As you can see and hear, the two-note idea is expanded and repeats several times while the saxophone continues with flourishes. At 6'24.5", the saxophone plays a staccato figure that is imitated in the xylophone and we are off and running to the Presto.

A Taiko Drum rhythm begins the Presto. The xylophone plays the opening idea of the new Presto theme, but it is the saxophone the carries the idea while the xylophone inserts the motive as an irregular ostinato (6'29.9"-6'43.4"). The ostinato gets turned upside down at times for variety. At 6'43.4", the xylophone offers a contrasting melodic idea that is filled with glissandi. The finger cymbals are added to the Taiko Drum for the rhythm background and the saxophone takes over the ostinato. Notice the different rhythmic placements of the saxophone ostinato in this section. At 6'50.9", the saxophone takes over the xylophone melody. I was challenged by creating glisses in the saxophone. after checking with Andy Wen and finding out that while the saxophone can do scoops (easier up than down) from short distances to the intended note, glisses can only be created by fast chromatic fingerings. I decided to write my own fast fill-ins using the pentatonic scale instead. Behind the saxophone are true glisses in the shakuhachi. At 6'59.9", this melodic idea turns into a 3 part canon, 2 measures apart. The shakuhachi begins the canon, followed by the xylophone then the saxophone. When the canon begins, I remove the percussion sounds to add a variety in texture. The canon ends at 7'23.9" when we return to the xylophone statement of the 2nd Presto melody with the saxophone ostinato. At 7'40.4", the canon begins again, this time one measure apart with the xylophone leading and the shakuhachi and saxophone following. The percussion stays in during this statement of the canon. As the canonic voices dissipate, the saxophone winds done to a written out tremolo. The movement piece ends with a two and a half octave saxophone flourish.

My next task is to combine the pre-recorded sounds into one or two staves so that the saxophonist will have less page turns. I will also try to post an mp3 realization of each movement so that you can hear what the piece would really sound like as the MIDI sounds are inaccurate.

The alto saxophone part is in concert pitch while I compose the piece. The recorded accompaniment sounds are not accurate on the MIDI playback. The shakuhachi plays back like a saxophone instead of a flute and the gong ageng plays as a cymbal instead of gong. These sounds are correct when I use Sibelius Sound Essentials, which I will use to create the prerecorded sound version to go along with the saxophone part. The sounds are also in a better balance. Please use your imagination when listening and substitute the correct sounds in your mind. To see and hear what I have composed thus far, go to http://www.cooppress.net/lan_na_thai_blog.html

Dr. B

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