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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, December 5, 2014

Modal Suite Movement 2

This is the 2nd movement of a composition for the Tucumcari Rattlers Xylophone and Recorder Ensemble. My comments in this blog post are written for the students in the ensemble as well as other readers. I hope that I can get my ideas across so that what I am doing as a composer is clear to all my readers. 

Lydian Lament uses the F Lydian (FGABCDEF) scale. In order to express sadness, a lot of music uses the idea of a descending half step (the closest distance between any two notes in Western music). In the Lydian mode, this interval occurs between scale degrees 8 and 7 and 5 and 4. The metallophones begin the movement with the 8 to 7 half step (F to E) that quickly expands to a larger unsettled interval, the diminished 5th (F to B) or tritone (the distance between these two notes is three whole steps, therefore a tritone). These two measures are repeated in measures 3 and 4 with harmony added. The glocks expand the idea in measures 5 and 6 by using a melodic line of FECBF (this uses both half step intervals as well as the tritone) before settling with the more stable interval of a perfect 4th (D to A). The recorders play the descending half step motive at measure 7, this time using C to B. It is answered by the xylophones doing a repeated eighth note pattern during the recorder's sustained note. The harmony in these two measures goes from tension (use of the tritone) to resolution (minor triad).

Measures 14-15 create a little bit of optimism by avoiding the half step and the tritone in the quarter note to half note motive. However both of these are used in 16 and 17, but with gentler harmony. This section builds to a climax at measure 21 and then gradually returns to the sadness by measure 26. Measure 26 to the end uses similar ideas to the beginning and leaves the listener with a feeling of unresolved tension.

In this movement I suggest using found objects in the percussion section. The Tucumcari Elementary School was recently involved with a project that created art from found objects and that art also created sound. I am excited to see what sounds the group decides to use in my composition.

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/Modal_Suite_blog.html

As always, your comments are appreciated.
Dr. B

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