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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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Arizona Centennial Overture - Native American Section Revised

Today, I will be discussing my revision to the "Native American Section" of this overture. 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. The score is in concert pitch.

In working on the third section (Hispanic Influences) and the ending, I began to feel that something is not right with the end of the Native American section. When I first composed the Moderato part (measures 107-116), I felt it was too short, but decided to let it go until I got more of the next part done. The Hispanic section came quickly and as I was thinking about how to end the piece, I thought I would try to combine themes from all three parts as a way of illustrate the mix of cultures that makes Arizona what it is today. (I will talk about and include examples of the Hispanic section and end in my next post.) In doing this, I used the Moderato of the Native American section and added some phrases from the Pioneer section. I then realized that the melody I created for the Moderato section sounded very angry because of emphasis on the minor mode. I did some more listening on youtube of Southwestern Native American music and then created a new melody that avoids the tonic pitch in minor. This new melody is more contemplative than angry. I also realized that returning either to the Pioneer section or the Native American section was anti-climatic, especially after the bright and festive Hispanic section. It was then that I realized how to expand the Moderato section when it first appears. I took what I wrote for the ending and inserted it into the Moderato. The result is better balance and a smoother transition. The Moderato is now twice as long. The first phrase is euphonium solo with drums. The second phrase is euphonium and trombones playing the melody with a flute counter melody. The third phrase is a French Horn solo and the fourth phrase is like the second except the motive from the Pioneer section is added in the trumpets and clarinets.

Below is the new melody I created for the Moderato section. It occurs over a steady beat in the tom-toms and timpani. To break up the regularity of phrasing and to make it sound more improvisatory, I add a few beats of drums alone at the ends of phrases. Sometimes it is two beats and other times three.

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