After working on the Thor Johnson Memorial Commission and several contest entries that I couldn't reveal here, I am now working on Commissioning Consortium composition. This composition, for soprano saxophone and piano, is called High Desert Apparitions and would be in three movements at a graduate or professional level. The first would be called Shapeshifters (Skinwalkers or yee naaldlooshii). These are evil creatures that appear as humans or as animals. This movement would have the piano representing the human form and the saxophone representing various animals. The second movement would be Mirages. This movement would be ethereal with an interplay of soft sustained notes between instruments. The last movement would be Ancestral Spirits. This movement would use Native American sounding melodic lines and would be uplifting in character. The composition would be 8-10 minutes in length. For more information about the consortium, please visit http://cooppress.net
The four animal shapes I chose to represent in the first movement are coyote, owl, fox, and crow. I listened to recordings of these animals and did my best to imitate them using the saxophone. Many of the sounds contain multiple pitches and multiphonics were used for these. Grace notes, pitch bends, and rapid passages are other techniques utilized.
The movement is in a rondo form without the final A. The piano represents a normal Navajo person. An undulating sixteenth note figure that goes from loud to soft serves as the transition to animal forms and back. By the end of the movement, the normal Navajo persona is consumed by the crow as the piano becomes part of crow sounds.
Your comments are always appreciated.