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.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Contrasts for Euphonium and Piano Part 1

I have completed the slow section of this two-part piece and I am pleased with the results. However, I was not feeling that way while I was working on the piece. I mentioned in my last post that I was pleased with the beginning of the piece and will then need to see where the piece takes me. What I mean by this statement is that my music, as well as a lot of other contemporary music, is based on motives rather than themes or melodies that occur in regular phrases. Therefore the traditional formal treatments do not seem to apply and it is often unclear what structure the composition will take. It wasn't until Monday, when I reached the climax at measure 24, that the shape of this section became clear. This part is a loose ABA structure with the first A going from the beginning to measure 16, the B section from measure 17-25, and the last A, with some slight changes,from 26-42. A euphonium cadenza serves as an interlude to the upcoming Allegro.

The way each section is constructed is based on key motives that suggest new melodic ideas. The harmony is a result of the independent, yet related lines in the euphonium and in both hands of the piano. Let me identify some of the key motivic ideas and then you can try to find them being used in both the euphonium and piano parts throughout this section.

The opening 16th notes in the piano becomes what I call a noodling motif. It comes back in various forms in both instruments. The three 8th note idea that leads to longer note that occurs first in the euphonium melody in measure 1 to measure 2 is another important recurring idea. The two 16th notes followed by an 8th note which first occurs in the euphonium in measure 5 gets transformed in its melodic direction, but is an important unifying rhythmic idea. The syncopated 8th 1/4 8th rhythm that is used for sudden contrast in the piano in measure 3, dominates the middle section and is the main feature of the climax. The triplets, sextuplets, and 32nd notes all add rhythmic variety and are interspersed at key moments in this section and are also important in the cadenza. Another key element is the interval of an ascending minor 7th that is used throughout, but especially at the climaxes.

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

Dr. B

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Piece for Euphonium and Piano

After spending the past three weeks preparing our home for sale so that we can move to Arizona, I am finally back composing. My next project is a composition for euphonium and piano for John DelVento, a very talented high school student from Connecticut. Since we are looking at a piece that lasts approximately eight minutes, I thought I would write a piece that begins with a slow section and ends with a fast section. This approach gave rise to the title "Contrasts", and the title suggested the opening of the piece. I began with a high piano arpeggiation that is vague in tonality. The euphonium enters one and half beats later with a low and sustained line therefore setting up the first contrast. Other contrasts occur in measure three with the articulation of the piano at the end of the measure and in measures 4 and 5 where the texture changes to euphonium alone. Measure 5 is also a contrast to the quarter note pulse by using an uneven 7/8. There are also contrasts in tonality as the piece does settle in any one place. These contrasts are subtle, but nonetheless important to the musical expression of the piece.

I always find getting started on a new piece challenging, especially after a lay off from composing. I have this fear that I won't be able to come up with anything and if I do, it will sound just like something I have already written. It still amazes me that I can come up with something new each time. I am looking forward to working on this piece and seeing where it takes me.

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

Dr. B