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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, October 7, 2010

Burnsiana Movement 2

These past week or so, I worked on the second movement of Burnsiana. The poem I used for the inspiration of the movement follows:


O, My Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

I begin the movement with timbre trills. Timbre trills occur when the performer goes back and forth between the regular fingering for a note and an alternate fingering. I put a footnote to these trills indicating that they should be slow and gentle, like the rustling of leaves. I am trying evoke a sense of nature and of beauty. The playback does not create the effect I want as it is too regular and too pronounced. The lyrical (love) melody occurs first in the alto saxophone but soon travels to all the other saxophones during the entire movement, sometimes as solos, sometimes as duets, and sometimes in counterpoint.

Beginning in measure 10, the soprano saxophone plays a descending stepwise figure that once again gets transferred to all the instruments. As the poem intensifies with the ideas of parting and traveling to return, the descending stepwise idea is augmented to create a more undulating sense of urgency (measure 14). The melodic lines along with this figure are still lyrical, but more intense.

I take a liberty with Burns' poem by returning to the more subdued expression of love for the end of the movement. I simply repeat the first thirteen measures at a slightly slower tempo and only create a different ending for this material.

I usually like to create using a transposed score as I can see the ranges the instruments are playing in clearer and transposing in my head to recognize how the pitches sound does not cause me any problems. When working on this piece, I found the constant transposing in my head challenging because the top part is in Bb, the 2nd in Eb, the 3rd in Bb and the 4th in Eb. I was getting confused regarding what pitches were actually sounding. When I placed the score in concert pitch, the tenor and baritone saxophones were still in treble clef, so they had many ledger lines below the staff that were just as hard to read. I then put the tenor and baritone saxes in bass clef for the composing phase and the notes were in the staves, making the creation of the harmony and contrapuntal lines easier. This will be the way I will work on this piece from now on. I put the score back to transposed and changed the clefs back to treble for these posts.

To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/Burnsiana_blog.html. You will be viewing a transposed score.

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B

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