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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.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bandscapes Movement 13 - Finale Variations

I am pleased that I have completed the last movement to Bandscapes. Before I discuss it, let me once again thank the sixteen bands that have joined the consortium to help make this composition possible. I am very pleased with the results as the composition and poetry accomplishes what I set out to do; creating a composition that introduces the instruments of the band to an audience of all ages in a manner that is educational, entertaining, and artistic. I am sending a copy of the score to the participating bands so that can they can review what I have written and suggest any simplifications that might be made as ossia parts to accommodate the level of their band.

Narration for Finale Variations

After all these solos, it is time for review
First the band plays a theme that is totally new.
Many variations follow that alter the theme
Like 31 flavors of Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream.

Now that you have heard the instruments featured
We will mix them together to create new creatures.
Brand new colors by combining the tones
Clarioboe, tubassoon, xyloflute and baribone.

We hope that you have enjoyed this tour of the band
Its many sounds are surely grand.
Sit back and relax and keep an instrument tally
While the concert band plays its glorious finale.

My goal in this last movement was to create a theme and variations where different combinations of instruments could be explored. I had two false starts trying find a theme that would work before coming up with the one I settled on. This theme is like a passacaglia theme in that it first appears in the bass instruments and then new treatments occur over it. The theme itself is 16 measures long and consists of 4 four measure phrases forming and ABA'B' structure of a double period (antecedent, consequence ending on the dominant, antecedent, consequence). There are frequent orchestration changes during the theme, sometimes every 8 measures and sometimes every 4, giving the movement a lot of timbral variety. I had to be careful to double sufficiently so that if some instrumentation is lacking, the timbres are covered by the more common instruments.

Another challenge I faced with this movement was the regularity of the meter (3/4) and phrasing. I felt that this regularity needed to broken up without destroying the essential nature of the theme. I accomplished by changing some phrase endings to 2/4 or 4/4, overlapping into the next phrase, and retardations (suspending the leading tone resolution over the chord change before resolving upward).

Another ingredient that makes this apparently simple structure more complex is the use of imitation. Measure 16 and 17 usher in the first use between the trumpets and oboe combination and the clarinets. Slight bitonality is used here as well. Measure 32 introduces a counter melody that uses a dotted rhythm that is also treated imitatively. At measure 48, the theme itself is varied through the use of triplets and then subject to imitation. The dotted rhythm idea also occurs with its on imitation creating double counterpoint. This dotted rhythm imitation disguising the 3/4 pattern as it occurs every two beats therefore creating a hemiola feel. At measure 60, the last phrase of the theme appears in 4 part counterpoint one beat apart.

After a two measure percussion and piccolo interlude, the final variation begins at measure 67 with an augmentation of the theme's rhythm into straight eighth notes and an eighth note triplet before sustaining. The woodwinds play flourishes during the sustain notes. Further fragmentation and inversion of a motive from the last phrase of the theme, brings the meter into 2/4. Repetition and increased instrumentation and dynamics lead to the climatic ending.

I use 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 and you can use the zoom in feature to see more detail on larger scores. To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/Bandscapes_blog.html.

Please read earlier posts for information about earlier movements. As always, your comments are appreciated.

Dr. B

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