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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.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Arizona Centennial Overture - Native American Section Revised Again

I have taken a break from composing to work on my income taxes and now I'm back to discuss yet another revision to the "Native American Section" of this overture. Audio and visual examples are 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.

The section from measures 85-103 was not quite right. When I first composed this section, I wanted a strong, noble, harmonized idea to contrast the single line flute and drum section that precedes it. What I came up with was nice, but the more I listened the more it sounded out of place. When my wife listened to it, she agreed with me. (By the way, I always find it helpful to have an extra set of ears to listen when I am composing a piece. When I am so immersed in a composition that I live with day in and day out, those extra ears can give a fresh perspective.) I tried several things to revise this section including removing the harmonized material and doing more with the single line idea, but I could not get the harmonized idea out of my head. I finally tried changing some of the harmony to use less triads in 3rds. I replaced these chords with more open sounds like chords in 4ths and 5ths. I also changed the dynamic from f to mp and thinned out the orchestration. The result is a noble section that transitions better from the single line melody. Here is an example of the new chords for the harmonized, noble section. The top two parts are oboes in treble clef and the bottom two parts are bassoons in bass clef. These parts are doubled in the clarinet family.

Another thing that has had me concerned is that I may be leaving out representing important cultures in this overture. I am a fan of watching KEAT's Arizona Stories and last Tuesday's program had a piece on the importance of the Chinese in settling Arizona. But how can I include a section for each influential culture in a six-minute overture? The answer is that I can't. But what I had in mind was that the "Pioneer Section" would pay tribute to those important influences that preceded Arizona's statehood. In many ways, this section, while composed to sound "western"representing the open land, also has characteristics of many different cultures. The horse-hooves can represent the ranchers and farmers. The minor quality of this section can represent the dangers faced by the miners. The parallelism in the harmony sounds almost Chinese. I hope that listeners will hear this section as being inclusive of all the pre-statehood influences and hear it as a tribute to all the cultures that make Arizona what it is today.

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