I was commissioned to compose a composition for Baritone Voice and Guitar by David Asbury, guitar and Bruce Cain, baritone voice, both of Southwestern University. When this opportunity came along, I immediately thought of one of my favorite compositions that was composed in 2000 for baritone voice and piano and has yet to be performed. I asked David and Bruce whether they would be okay with my rewriting the piano part for guitar and taking the baritone piano version out of circulation so that they could premiere the composition and they responded enthusiastically.
The poems for Songs of Youth were written by my best friend for over 55 years. Bob Feinberg is a chiropractor who lives in Columbus, GA. He was a professional trumpet player for many years and has many other talents including poetry.
The first poem, Loneliness, deals with going away to college and being unhappy. The setting of this poem includes blues-like sections alternating with more happy sections reflecting his thoughts when returning home. The song plays out like a mini-opera with its dramatic imagery.
The second poem, Jazz Heaven, is quite short. It reflects the joys of spending weekend evenings listening to the jazz greats on recordings. A bluesy triple meter is used for this movement.
The last poem, Carmine, reflects the excitement and joy of taking a trumpet lesson with Carmine Caruso. As the text reflects, Carmine was an extraordinary teacher who could draw the best out of everyone. In many ways, the poem honors all the great teachers who have influenced our lives.
In addition to writing the piano part for guitar, I changed the tempo of the last movement to make it less frantic. I will make that change in the piano version as well.
I found writing for guitar quite challenging. I have written for guitar before, but I do not play it and have never studied it. I have learned a few things by hearing my other guitar compositions rehearsed and performed and I hopefully carried that over into this composition. For instance, in voicing chords, I had a fingering chart in front of me and I tried to replicate the finger positions. I used a lot of wide spacing of chords as this seemed to make the fingering easier. I also have some concern regarding some of the contrapuntal lines regarding playability. I hope that David will make suggestions as he works on the piece.
Regarding the voice part, that remained the same as when I composed the piece in 2000. It is quite tonal so finding pitches should not be a challenge. There are some long phrases so deciding where to breathe will be important. There are also spots where the notes go by rapidly so diction will become a challenge. The voice will sound almost percussive in sections instead of sustaining lots of vowel sounds. I an anxious to hear Bruce's comments and performance to see if what I was hearing works.
To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/Songs_of_Youth_blog.html. You can view and hear the score if Scorch is downloaded on your computer and/or listen to the mp3 file.
As always, your comments are appreciated.