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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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Hope Collage for Saxophone Ensemble

This is a four movement composition that I am writing for the Hope College Saxophone Ensemble. The piece is called "Hope Collage" and it consists of movements that represent hope. The movements are "Castles In The Sky", "A Light at the End of the Tunnel", "Knock on Wood", and "Promised Land."

I chose the meter of 6/8 for the first movement but some of the syncopated rhythmic figures pit 3/4 against the 6/8. The major tonality is disguised by chromaticism either in the melody or the counterpoint and harmony An example would be the ascending thematic material at measure 7 that spans a major 7th encompassing a chromatic line near the end. The form is basically AB with a Coda. The first movement transposed score and playback appears below.

 The slow second movement has the tenor and baritone saxophones representing the darkness of the tunnel using minor and slightly dissonant harmony. The light at the end of the tunnel is represented by the alto and soprano saxophones. Even though they are still in minor, their brightness and rising arpeggios represent a glimmer of hope. By the time the movement reaches measure 26, optimism has taken over and the entire ensemble is in shifting major tonalities leading up to the quiet, yet, prayerful end in B major.

The third movement "Knock On Wood" has a Scherzo quality and is at an allegro tempo. The opening theme sets the tone of optimism with its combination of quartal, quintal, and triadic harmony along with staccato articulation. It is answered by the saxophones doing rhythmic slap tongue in a pyramid formation that represents knocking on wood. The theme and its variations alternate with the slap tongue throughout most of the movement. At measure 21 and 63, the theme and slap tongue appears in canon. At measure 80, the theme becomes fragmented and the slap tongue dominates. The fragments become pieced together leading to a final outburst of 16th note joy before the last chord. The movement ends with foot stomps that rhythmically "knock on wood."

The last movement "Promised Land" is in two parts. The first is meditative and prayer-like in a moderate tempo. It has a passacaglia bass line and contrapuntal lines are added above it. It also grows in intensity until it reaches the Allegro, which is the second part and is celebratory. The Allegro begins with a sixteenth note motif that plays an accompaniment role in many places throughout the last section to the slower moving declarative lines. From measure 58 to the end, motifs from the Moderato section are transformed in the Allegro, therefore linking the two sections.

Your comments are always appreciated.

Dr. B