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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.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Avalon for Trumpet and Piano

Avalon was composed during 2012 for trumpeter Christopher Wilson. Chris wanted a lyrical composition with long melodic lines and this parameter gave rise to the title and idea of the composition. Avalon is the legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend. It was the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged and later where Arthur was taken to recover from his wounds after the Battle of Camlann.

The composition’s structure is more influenced by the rhetorical device of anaphora than by any specific musical form. Anaphora consists of a repeated sequence of words that begins a series of neighboring clauses, thereby lending them emphasis. The open motive, stated by the trumpet alone, is the anaphora phrase that represents the magical and mysterious qualities of Avalon. It occurs three additional times in its entirety, though slightly transformed by the use of additional harmony. It also permeates other parts of the composition, but in a less recognizable fashion. Each time it is used, the material that follows it develops freely.

The other unifying device used is a figure of a dotted eighth and sixteenth followed a long note a perfect fifth higher. This motive represents the sword Excalibur and all the good deeds King Arthur is known for. It appears seven times during the composition, mostly in a gentle context that only hints of the heroic deeds to come. Around two-thirds through the composition, the motive develops into its full-blown heroic nature. It is also used as the final notes, sounding a benediction to the work of King Arthur.

Throughout the composition, the trumpet and piano parts constantly interweave, creating a mostly consonant harmony along with contrapuntal tension. Rhythmic variation and slight tempo changes add interest and enable the melodic lines to develop as if someone was narrating a story about the legendary deeds of this benevolent leader.

I am now using flip pdf technology for the musical examples that go along with my posts. It uses Flash Player that most browsers come with. You will be hearing an mp3 of sampled sounds playing the music and you will see the score at the same time. You will need to turn the pages by clicking on the arrows at the appropriate time. To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/avalon_blog.html.

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B