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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.

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

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