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.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

American Vignettes for Brass Quintet Movement 2

For the second movement, I wanted to write a blues and feature the other trumpet player on Flugelhorn. As I was working on the movement, the blues seem very mysterious and lonely so I titled the movement 4 A.M. Blues. It reflects someone who can't sleep and is contemplating the deep mysteries of life and feels very alone in the world.

This movement is not a blues in the sense that it uses the twelve bar blues progression. It is actually a traditional song form (AABA) with some subtle variations. It is more of a "Third Stream" kind of blues that is a cross between classical and jazz. The jazz elements are the muted brass (including the tuba), the Flugelhorn, and the use of variants of the blues scale with its lowered third, fifth and seventh degrees.The classical elements are the evenness of the rhythm, counterpoint, and transformation of motivic ideas.

The mood is set with the muted low brass playing a mysterious accompaniment figure. The Flugelhorn then enters with its bluesy melody that is constantly changing in subtle ways while the phrasing remains consistent. At measure 10, the 1st trumpet enters with a bluesy motivic idea that will later have more of a presence. The second A section is from M 11-18.

M 19 begins the B section. The meter shifts to 7/8 although there is no sub pulse, rather just 7 equal eighth notes in each measure just as the 6/8 and 9/8 measures that precede it are mostly equal eighth note beats. I did indicate a stress mark on beats 1 and 4 of the accompaniment in the A sections, but that is to counteract the 3/4 feel created by the harmonic and melodic groupings. M. 19-23 uses the trombone imitating the Flugelhorn and the tuba providing a rhythmic pedal tone effect. The 1st trumpet once again come in with its motif that is imitated in the Horn (M 24 & 25). We then hear a 6/8 version of the B section Flugelhorn melody accompanied by variants of the 1st trumpet motif orchestrated in the remaining brass.

A return of the A section occurs at M 34-43. The ending uses fragments of the A section accompaniment and the 1st trumpet motive to create a quiet end to the movement.

Dynamically, most of the movement is PP, P, and MP. MF is used only a few times therefore creating a sense of the stillness of the wee hours of the morning.

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

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

American Vignettes for Brass Quintet Movement 1

Hello readers. I have been silent for a while because I am on a six-week tour doing presentations at colleges, universities, and conferences and hearing premieres of my music. I am managing to compose while traveling and camping in my little van. I have a USB powered one and a half octave keyboard (M-Audio's Oxygen 8) connected to my laptop and I am set to go.

The piece I am writing now is a six-movement composition for the Lyric Brass Quintet of Pacific Lutheran University. This faculty ensemble is putting together a CD of American music composed during the 20th and 21st Centuries for a recording project through Emeritus Recordings. They asked me to compose a piece with Americana influences and to feature a different member of the quintet in each movement. I am calling the piece "American Vignettes".

The first movement is a Hoedown and features the first trumpet. I use fragments and elaborations of "Old Chisholm Trail" and "Short'nin Bread" as the melodic material during the movement. Since this is the opening movement, I started with a fanfare section that treats all the brass equally. It contains quartal and tertian harmony as well as syncopation and call and response. From M 11-35, phrases from "Old Chisholm Trail" are broken up by a rhythmic accompaniment and a muted trumpet insert that gets more intrusive during the entire movement, as is it was competing for attention with the solo first trumpet. M 35-60 gets rolling without interruptions (except for the muted 2nd trumpet) with variants of both tunes and frequently modulates. An extended version of the opening re-occurs at M 60-74. More variants follow with modulations occurring more often as the movement builds to the coda that begins a M 112. The Coda recaps earlier material and finishes with a final flourish for the solo trumpet.

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

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hep Cats for Flute and Clarinet

Hi readers,

I have been working feverishly on a flute and clarinet duet for The Ardente Duo consisting of Cassandra Rondinelli-Eisenreich, flute and Danielle Woolery, clarinet. Cassandra and Danielle will be producing a CD of my music for flute and clarinet and I adapted my Suite for Two Saxophones for them as well as turning my composition "Hep Cats", that was originally written for solo clarinet, into a duet.

The Suite adaption was a fairly simple process of adjusting ranges as both parts had interesting and melodic material. My biggest challenge was deciding which register to write the clarinet and settled on low register for some of the movements and high register for the others. I think I achieved a nice balance as well as variety. I have not posted the score and sound file because there is not much to illustrate.

Hep Cats was originally composed during 2008 for a clarinetist who was planning a CD of solo clarinet compositions. Since 2008, the clarinetist's plans changed and he withdrew from the project. I thought that this piece could be made into a nice duet. If you would like to read my blog about composing the solo clarinet version, please go to the May 2008 entries. That has a discussion of the musical ideas. In this discussion, I'll focus on the duet adaption.

Here is an excerpt from the program notes. The title is a double entendre first suggesting the jazz influences and second being a musical portrait of felines. The first movement is called “Siamese” and was written in memory of my cat, Siegfried, who was part Siamese. It is an upbeat, swing movement and captures the joy Siegfried brought my wife and myself. “Angora” is the title of the second movement and is moody, bluesy, and mysterious. The last movement, “Tom” is in a rock style and is aggressive.

I added a four measure clarinet introduction to the first movement which then becomes the accompaniment for the flute line. The introduction is actually the only added part to the entire piece. To create a duet part, I looked for motives that came from the existing music to create the duet lines. I was challenged by how to divide the solo material between the two instruments. I tried to find logical places to split the line and then I created the duet line to go with it. There are times where the solo line stands by itself without any accompaniment. Other times the duet part creates a counterpoint and occasionally a canon. Sometimes it moves in rhythmic unison and creates a harmony line. I was pleased with the variety of textures that are used in the duet version.

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

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B