I was recently sent a link to a story about a music prodigy, Jay Greenburg, who has the ability to hear an entire composition in his head completely scored and all he needs to do is to notate it. That process can take him around two hours. I compare this to how I compose, especially during the composition of Interplay, and we are not even in the same league. My process involves getting an idea, seeing where it wants to go, wondering where it is going to lead me, writing a measure or two at a time, filling in other parts, reviewing what I have written often, and making changes to what I have written earlier based upon what has come after it. When the composition is completed, I'm amazed at its balance, direction, craftmanship, cohesiveness, and variety, because it certainly doesn't feel that way during the composing process.
I mention all this because while I am pleased with the results of Interplay, it felt like a struggle almost the entire time. In fact, once the third movement was completed, I made a few minor changes to the other two movements.
The third movement actually came a little easier than the previous two because of my approach to the interplay. Instead of relying heavily on counterpoint between the instruments, this movement is more of an interplay between sections of the piece and its instrumental color. I set out to write a Rondo and wanted the movement to be lighter in nature to contrast the more serious nature of the first two movements. The movement is sort of a Rondo, but took on a life of its own.
The movement begins with a two-measure bassoon introduction that establishes the meter changes and uneven meter feel that will be used as the basis of humor in the movement. It is answered by a four-measure tuba and piano section that changes between 2/4 and 3/8. These measures continue to alternate with the bassoon melody establishing the A section (measures 7-34). At measure 21, the piano and bassoon play the idea in imitation.
The B section goes from measure 35 - 54 and also has an uneven meter feel but in a different pattern. The tuba has the B theme first and then it goes to the bassoon.
The A section returns in measures 55 - 83 with a different scoring; piano first then bassoon.
Measure 84 ushers in the C section mostly in 3/8 but with occasional different meters inserted. It is more lyrical than the other two previous sections and the melody is a three-phrase group. The melody and harmony contain both 4ths and 3rds. The three-phrase group repeats two more times, each time with instrumentation changes, increasing counterpoint, and more intensity of dynamics. It climaxes at measure 147 before transitioning back to the B section instead of the expected A section of the Rondo. It is followed by A, therefore creating almost an arch form (ABACBA). At measure 200, the C section returns with even more counterpoint than its original statement. The Coda gives us a hint of the A section before fading away into silence that is broken by a loud final chord.
To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/interplay_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.