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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.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Chorale Preludes in Modern Settings Movement 7

This is the 7th and final movement of a 15-20 minute composition for a four-part flute ensemble at an intermediate (early high school) level. The piece is called "Chorale Preludes in Modern Settings" that would have five to eight short movements where each movement would be based on a hymn or hymns and would use the hymn in a creative manner, rather than just a chorale-like setting. The music would still be mostly tonal and lyrical. Each Chorale Prelude can be performed individually and the composition short work equally as well in a church or concert setting.

The required instrumentation is at least 3 flutes plus a 4th flute, alto flute, and/or bass flute as these three instruments mostly play the same line. There is also an optional piccolo part that mostly doubles the first flute an octave higher in spots.

I have always been musically attracted to the carols Angels We Have Heard on High and Ding Dong Merrily On High because both carols contrast syllabic (one note per syllable) text settings with melismatic (many notes per syllable) text settings. I though it would be fun to combine these two carols in different ways.

The first thing I wish to discuss is the underlying rhythmic pulse. Both carols are in 4/4 time, however instead of 4 equal beats with each beat divided into two, I use melodic accompaniment figures that suggest grouping the 8 eighth notes into 3+3+2 pattern. The musician just counts normally, but the effect is this syncopation/hemiola that permeates most of the composition. You can examine the first two measures to get a clear understanding of this concept.

Measures 3-22 present Angels We Have Heard on High with each phrase interrupted by this rhythmic ostinato. At measures 23-30, instead of repeating the melismatic section of Angels, I switch to the melismatic part of Ding Dong. Measure 31 uses the rhythmic ostinato before going into Ding Dong Merrily on High. At measures 42-57, I alternate my original melismatic passage in two-part counterpoint that is derived from Ding Dong with the actual melismatic section of Ding Dong. Measures 58 to the end alternates phrases from both carols all with the rhythmic ostinato underpinning. This all leads to an exciting, triumphal conclusion.

I export my Sibelius Music Notation file as a movie (new to version 7.5). I also use Noteperformer software for the sounds. These are sample sounds, but the software also includes an algorithm that reads ahead in the music and phrases the music according to context, therefore making the realization closer to live performance. I  upload these videos to youtube and embed the video for each movement. I hope that this technology allows the reader to have an easier experience and a more realistic performance. To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/Chorale_Preludes_blog.html

As always, your comments are appreciated.
Dr. B

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