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.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I am commissioned to compose a piece for Jeffrey Kyle Hutchins, saxophone and EunHye Grace Choi, piano and because I have been writing a lot lately for alto saxophone, I decided to write for tenor saxophone this time. Another reason I chose this instrumentation is because of the scarcity of solos for tenor saxophone and piano.  This composition will be used on a CD titled "American Saxophone Sonatas". After communicating with Jeffrey about the piece, he mentioned that he prefers programmatic pieces over compositions that are just called Sonata. This led me to a composition I started a few years ago for clarinet and piano that I never completed. In this composition, I was taking a four movement duet I wrote for flute and clarinet called "Kaleidoscope" and was converting some of the ideas for a clarinet and piano composition. I thought I'd see if this would work for tenor saxophone and piano.

If you have been following my blog, you are aware that I occasionally recycle my music. When I come up with something I really like that has had limited performances, I like to see if I can transform it into another composition. While the basic ideas may be the same, the new instrumentation often suggests new ideas and ways of treating the material. That is what happened when I began to work with the first movement and this version has more harmonic material, a few new rhythmic variants, and more counterpoint than its flute and clarinet cousin. I also extended the second theme in this version.

The movement, as well as the entire piece, is not in the classical sonata form, however, it does reflect sonata-like qualities with contrasting themes and movements. I also incorporated programmatic titles into the title and the names of each movement. The composition is called "Funtasies", a play on the word fantasy. Each movement will represent a different way of having fun. My titles for each movement are as follows: I. Boisterous II. Innocent III. Pleasant IV. Witty V. Teasing

Boisterous came from transforming the "Kaleidoscope" movement Quadrangles, therefore much of the melodic, harmonic, and meter is based on four. After a two-measure rhythmic introduction by the piano, the saxophone states the first phrase of the main theme. The phrases of the theme are frequently interrupted my a rhythmic vamp. The flavor of the main theme is loud, energetic, and staccato. There is a lot of interplay of lines among the saxophone and the two hands of the piano as the material develops.

Measures 37 & 38 provide a transition to the quieter, more lyrical second theme that begins in the piano at measure 39. The saxophone takes over the theme at measure 45 with the piano answering the sustained notes with the rhythmic idea of the introduction. The secondary theme is then treated contrapuntally at measure 54.

There is no development section. Instead, the recapitulation that begins at M 69 transforms the two themes slightly as the movement gains momentum.  A coda, beginning at measure 104, that uses the main theme ideas in a faster tempo, brings the movement to a boisterous close.

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/funtasies_blog.html.

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B

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