I have received a commission from Marcy and Kenyon Wilson to compose a duet for violin and tuba for a premiere at the Southeast Regional Tuba and Euphonium Conference being held in Chattanooga, TN March 10-12, 2011. One evening, as I was trying to fall asleep, the idea of using adages for the movement titles popped into my head. The next day, I googled "adages" and printed a list of 70 to choose from. I then narrowed the list down to six that seemed to suggest musical treatments. I'll keep you in suspense as to what the six are and will reveal them as I write about them here.
The first one I chose was "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Since the theme of this adage in envy, I decided to have the tuba imitate the violin as if copying the movements and actions of someone who is admired. Yet the message of the adage is that we should be happy with who we are and find our own special uniqueness.
The imitation during the first nine measures is two measures apart as if the tuba is wary to follow the violin too closely. Beginning in measure 10, the imitation becomes a measure apart as the tuba gains confidence. In measure 19, the violin begins a new idea with pizzicato, as if sensing that it is being followed and wants to distinguish itself as being different. The tuba is now only two beats behind and its staccatos don't exactly match the violin pizzicato. At the measures 26-30, the tuba finds its own voice, first by repeating three notes that violin did not do, and then taking off with a boisterous melody of its own. The violin is at first dismayed that it is no longer the leader and inserts pizzicato exclamations. In measure 31, the violin returns to the opening melody expecting the tuba to follow, but it does not. The violin keeps interrupting itself as if looking back over its shoulder to see where the tuba is until it completes its melody. The tuba then comes in on the last measure with its own idea that illustrates its new-found independence.
To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/adages_blog.html. You will be viewing a transposed score.
As always, your comments are appreciated.