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, March 22, 2010

Arizona Centennial Overture - Orchestra Version Completed

I have completed the full orchestra version and I am pleased with how the piece transcribed from the band version. Even though I lost some band instrument colors, the addition of the strings were a very welcomed addition. I especially like using pizzicato in several section. I used it for the down beats and off beats in the pioneer section, as a rhythmic and tonal filler in the Native American section, and for part of the bass line in the Hispanic section.

Native American section pizzicato

The biggest change in the Native American section is the transfer of the harmonized woodwinds at M. 85 to the strings. The homogeneous blending of the strings makes these passages rich and meditative at the same time. I also took the euphonium solo that occurs at measure 108 at put it in the cellos and 1st bassoon. The bassoon gives a little edge to the mellow cello sound.

In the Hispanic section, the 3/4 melodic line at measure 141 lent itself very well to the violins, as this is a color in Mariachi music. To add variety when the melody repeats, I harmonize it with cello instead of second violin. The winds are also doubling this melody and harmony.

To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/aco_blog.html. If you would like to receive notifications of new blog posts, sign up to follow this blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Arizona Centennial Overture - Orchestra Version

I have begun work on the orchestral version of Arizona Centennial Overture in between doing a major revision to my website. Since it has been a while since I have posted and I have finished scoring the Fanfare and Pioneer section, I thought I'd share some thoughts about the process of making this transcription.

My first consideration was which instruments from the band will not be used in the orchestra version. In the woodwinds, I will not be using 3rd clarinet, alto and bass clarinet, and saxophones. In the brass, the euphonium will not be used. I tend to write for standard orchestra because extra instruments means hiring more musicians and that places an extra burden on the resources of orchestras. It is often challenging enough to get performances without this additional consideration. The string family gives me an entirely different color to work with. My goal was not to just put the missing wind parts in the strings, but to create a valid orchestration as if I was writing for orchestra originally. This means re-scoring the wind parts as well. Additionally, I want to make the strings a focal point of the composition and not just an after thought.

While I am working on the score, I have left all the band instruments in place and just muted the ones that I will be omitting so that I can hear the balances during playback. The score is quite cluttered right now, so I will wait until I finish the transcription before posting audio and visual examples. The first section is the most difficult to re-score because it uses a wide variety and combination of wind colors. The strings are mostly used as reinforcement of the already existing wind lines. Both pizzicato and arco are used depending upon the line. The violins and violas take the clarinet trio part and measure 50. The absence of the 3rd clarinet has been one of the biggest challenges because in the band version the homogeneous sound of three clarinets needs to be broken up into a heterogeneous sound of two clarinets and another instrument. At measure 50, I just omit the clarinets and use the homogeneous sound of the strings. I also took the oboe solo at measure 39 and made it an oboe duet by adding a harmony part and then doubling it in the violas and cellos. This makes a nice rich sound.

Re-scoring the Native American section is next.

Dr. B

Monday, March 1, 2010

Arizona Centennial Overture - Easier Band Version

I have completed the reworking of the more advanced band version into an easier band version. The instrumentation is the same. The ranges, particularly brass and saxophone have been adjusted, most of the time by taking passages down an octave. The technique has been simplified as follows:

Fanfare and Pioneer Section where quarter =120
- Four sixteenth notes are changed to eighth and two sixteenths or two sixteenths and an eighth. Below is an example where I divide the four 16ths giving two 16ths and an 8th to some instruments and 8th and two 16ths to others. The techniques is easier, but the sound still comes out like four 16ths. The first example is from the advanced version followed by the easier version clarinet parts at measures 9 & 10.

In the above example, I omitted the slur from the two 16ths to the 8th in the 2nd and third clarinets by accident. The advanced version uses the two slurred, two tongued articulation to make the technique more characteristic for woodwinds. In creating the easier version, slurring the two 16ths into the eighth is more characteristic. This is an illustration of why one cannot proofread their work often enough. It has now been corrected in the score.

- Some high woodwind trills are taken down an octave.
- Other woodwind parts are taken down a octave to avoid more awkward fingerings.
- Some brass parts are taken down an octave to make range and endurance easier.

Native American Section
- Flute solo simplified by removing most grace notes, changing the quintuplet to four 16th notes, and replacing 32nd notes with 16th note figures. The example below shows the advanced version followed by the easier version.

- Tom-tom figures simplified by replacing 32nd notes with 16th note figures.

Hispanic Section and Ending where quarter = 132
- Four 16ths replaced with 8th and two 16ths.
- Some brass parts are taken down an octave to make range and endurance easier.

The next step is to review the parts for formatting and any errors that may come to light. Then it is on to creating the orchestral versions.

To see and hear what I have discussed in previous posts, go to http://www.cooppress.net/aco_blog.html. Audio and visual examples are provided to illustrate my discussion . Since blogspot does not have the capability of including audio examples, this link 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 complete score is now transposed. If you would like to receive notifications of new blog posts, sign up to follow this blog.