I have planned my sections for my "Arizona Centennial Overture" which is being composed as a result of a commission from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. This 5-7 minute overture begins with a fanfare section that is celebratory. It then transitions into a section representing the pioneer days before Arizona became a state. The next section honors the Native Americans who were and are still a vibrant part of Arizona's culture. The Hispanic influence will be represented in the next section. The piece will close with a celebratory section acknowledging the coming together of various cultures.
I have begun composing the piece and it is going well as I am very excited about this work. I have completed the opening fanfare section and I am now working on the "pioneer" section. I will be discussing what I have written in future posts, but now I'd like to address some practical matters regarding setting up the score.
Part of the commission requirements is to create a work that is playable by high school, community, college/university, semi-professional, and professional bands. As you can see, there are different ability levels and instrumentation within these groups, so I really need at least two versions of the piece, one to challenge the higher levels, and one playable by groups with instrumentation gaps and players of lesser ability. I would also like to create a version of the piece playable by orchestras with their different levels of ability and instrumentation so that orchestras can participate in the celebration as well. For composing purposes, I have set up the score so that each instrument has its own line. I have 16 woodwind parts, 12 brass parts, and 4 percussion parts resulting in 32 staves. Some of the instruments are optional to accommodate groups with one oboe instead of two, one bassoon instead of two, no alto clarinet, and two Horns instead of four. I need to be careful when scoring to make sure that these optional parts do not contain anything not covered by another instrument. I also need to be concerned about balance so that the piece sounds good by groups with and without these optional instruments. I will also be inserting a lot of cues so that parts can be covered by other instruments if necessary.
The piece will be made available as a free download at the Arizona Commission on the Arts website to anyone who wishes to perform it. I am using an 11X17 score size for composing purposes, but this size is impractical for downloading as most printers do not handle 11x17 paper. In addition, I need to create some ossia versions of technical passages which will require extra staves. To solve the downloading problem, I have decided to have my final score size be legal size (8 1/2X14) and to put several instruments together on the same staff like 2 flutes on one staff, etc. The parts will still be separated for the musicians, as reading parts with two instruments on the same staff can be challenging. I should be able to reduce the score down from 32 staves to around 20 and it should be readable on legal size paper. I also plan to have at least 4 different scores and parts available to accommodate the various levels and instrumentation. With technology, this is not too difficult to do, but I am planning for it now so it will be easier.
Since I am composing on a score size of 11x17 and will not make the reductions until after the work is complete, I need to find a practical way of sharing on this blog what I have written while I am composing the piece. It is an impractical size for viewing here as everything would be too small (about a half inch per stave) and one would need to scroll a lot to see the full score. I am thinking about using pdf files of sections of the score to illustrate what I am discussing along with embedded mp3 files for listening. Please let me know if this works.