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, January 20, 2010

Arizona Centennial Overture - Fanfare Section

I will be discussing the first minute of this overture which contains the "fanfare of celebration" section and the transition to the beginning of the "pioneer section". Audio and visual examples will be provided to illustrate my discussion . Since blogspot does not have the capability of including audio examples, a link is provided that will navigate you away from this blog. To return, use your browser's back button or click on the Composing Insights link on the audio page. You will have two choices to hear the audio examples. The first uses a free Scorch plug-in that will enable you to see a scrolling score as you listen to the audio example. The second is an mp3 file of the audio only.

First, let me have you listen to measures 1-28 before the discussion. Go to http://www.cooppress.net/aco_blog.html

My compositional style can best be described as conservative 21st century. This means that melody, harmony, counterpoint, and form, etc. are treated as an extension of what has come before, rather than a rejection of tradition. For example, my harmonic language tends to avoid extreme dissonance and while it is non-functional ( avoiding traditional chord progressions), harmonic rhythm and concern regarding the movement of chord to chord are important. My chords are mostly triadic with a strong preference for modes that have a lot of minor triads. I tend to avoid major triads mainly because of there strong connections with a sound often associated with earlier styles. But minor triads do not suit well for a celebratory piece. To solve this problem, I found myself using a lot of three-part chords built in perfect fourths. This sound added the necessary brightness for the celebration. Measures 2, 4, 8 and 9 have chords built in 4ths.
After the opening horn and trombone fanfares that are answered by trumpets, woodwinds, low brass and woodwinds, and percussion, the excitement builds with short scale-wise passages, first in the clarinets and flutes, then in the lower instruments, and finally throughout the band.
The transition to the pioneer section involves down and off beats augmented by the use of wood block or temple blocks in the percussion to represent horse's hooves. This accompaniment idea then alternates with a "Coplandesque" melodic/rhythmic figure in the solo trumpet and flute. The melody is later harmonized with the same harmonic language discussed earlier using piccolo, flutes and trumpets. The accompaniment idea also uses the triads and chords in fourths. Notice the variation in rhythm and phrase length during this section. Composers try hard to have there music sound unified yet at the same time not become too predictable. I feel that this section achieves that balance.

Please share your comments and questions. They are always welcomed.

Dr. B

No comments: