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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Concertino Completed

I have now completed the "Concertino" as I also borrowed parts of the fast movement from the 1978 work for saxophone and piano. This movement was more difficult to work with than the slow movement because it had more extended sections featuring the piano. I decided to omit those sections and it balances the other movements very well. I also inserted a saxophone cadenza which was not present in the original work. Once again, I softened some of the dissonances, however, this movement is more dissonant than the other two movements. The staccato eighth notes often are more percussive than truly harmonic and adds rhythmic excitement to the movement.

There are once again, two main themes in this movement, the staccato idea, and the more sustained and lyrical idea. There is a development section in the middle. After the cadenza the opening material returns, but the sustained theme is varied quite a bit by giving parts of it to the saxophone over a triplet accompaniment.

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

Dr. B

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Legacy for Quartet

I promised that I would write about my re-scoring my orchestral composition "Legacy" for a quartet of clarinet, violin, cello and piano and the challenges I faced in order to accomplish this, so I'm finally getting around to it. "Legacy" is one of best compositions and it deserves to be heard more often than its first performance. It is extremely difficult to get additional performances by orchestras as most orchestras like to have the honor of the premiere and unless both the composer and/or the work becomes so well known, the work is likely to languish in the file cabinet. When I had the opportunity to compose a piece for the chamber ensemble "enhaké", I immediately thought of re-scoring this work for this excellent group of musicians.

Before I begin to discuss the challenges I faced, the reader may wish to visit my earlier blog on this work to gain insight into my thinking while composing this piece.
Here is the link http://composinginsights.blogspot.com/2007/09/legacy-general-description.html

The challenges fell into two main categories; what to do with the solo percussion parts and how do I cover all the important lines. When there were timpani solos, these were put in the cello or the left hand of the piano. Since fast repeated notes are difficult on piano, I often made the line more melodic. Non-pitched percussion solos like the ones in the toms were again given to either of these instruments. I created pitched lines for these.

Most of the time I was able to cover all the important lines. The greatest challenge was the loss of timbral variation that I had in the orchestral version. For example if I had a quartet of woodwinds playing a line in harmony, I needed to give it to all three monophonic instruments plus the right hand of the piano. I was able to use occasional double stops in the strings so the piano could do something else. In order to create some variety in timbre, sometimes the clarinet has the lead part and other times the violin. The extremely contrapuntal sections caused the most problem as I had to leave some lines out like in the Raga section at the end of the first movement, but I think the effect is still there. The musicians will also find themselves jumping rapidly back and forth between melodic material and background material as I needed all four instruments to play together very often just to cover the important parts of the orchestral piece.

I have some questions about bowings and articulations that are needed to have the group sound homogenious when require and to create the needed contrast when required. I have sent the score and parts to "enhaké" for their comments and I look forward to receiving their remarks.

To see and hear both versions, go to http://www.cooppress.net/legacy_blog.html

Dr. B

Monday, September 14, 2009

Concertino 2nd Movement

For the second movement of Concertino, I decided to adapt a 1978 composition of mine that was composed for the Bilger Duo with orchestra. It was a two movement work, beginning with a slow movement followed by a fast movement. The idea of recycling some of my music is very appealing to me. With over 250 compositions to my name, it is not always easy to come up with original works. I have an interesting story to relate regarding this.

A few years ago, I was a visiting composer at Mansfield University where Dr. Joe Murphy was performing several of my pieces. Just before the concert, he was rehearsing my Four Spanish Dances for saxophone and marimba and the concert began with my Sonata for saxophone and piano. When the concert began, I thought he left the music to my Spanish Dances on the stand and started playing that piece instead of the Sonata. It turned out both pieces began almost the same way and I was unaware of this until I heard them back to back. I wonder how many other composers borrow unconsciously from themselves.

In the case of the Concertino, I am borrowing consciously. The original work has had one performance in 30 years! Since it just sits in my file cabinet, why not give it new life? There are some good ideas in this piece, but I am struck by two observations as I adapt it. First is the amount of dissonance that I found acceptable in 1978. In my adaptation, I removed a lot of the dissonance. The second observation is the immaturity of developing my ideas and my instrumentation. As a result, I removed the former concerto from my catalog and I'm using the material in this new setting. I will probably do the same with the fast part for the last movement.

The second movement has two main sections, a very slow and rubato section and a slightly faster contrapuntal section. At M 43, I removed a lot of the dissonant counterpoint and replaced it with some syncopated chords in the trombones and tuba that is echoed by the timpani. At M. 48, I used some of the counterpoint from the previous work and linked it together with shorter syncopated sections in the trombones and tuba and shorter answering in the timpani. This sections builds nicely to a climax. The movement returns to the free tempo and ends with a suspended resolution as it will go directly into the fast last movement.

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

Dr. B

Friday, September 4, 2009

Concertino First Movement Completed

I have had some solid work sessions over the past few days and I have completed the first movement of my Concertino. I was correct when I said the vision for the structure would become clear when I completed the lyrical section. The lyrical section ends at m. 100 and I went into a short development of the four syncopated measures of the lyrical theme. The development is a short trio for saxophone, euphonium and percussion. After stating the four measures, I slip into a syncopated background figure that first occurs at m. 17. Following this interplay between instruments, a return to the full band playing material from M 16 fit nicely. I expanded the instrumentation and altered the solo saxophone part slightly during this recapitulation. I did not recapitulate the lyrical theme. Instead I brought the movement to a close with a three measure coda.

I plan to adapt a movement from and earlier composition for saxophone, piano and orchestra for the second movement. I'll begin working on that next week.

I have also completed two of the three movements of my adaptation of my orchestral piece Legacy for the enhaké quartet. This is going well and I'll blog on it and put up samples soon.

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

Dr. B