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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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Animales for Flute and Piano

This is a composition that I am writing for Venezuelan flautist Nicaulis Alliey based on Venezuelan animals. The five movements are Caimán del Orinoco (Orinoco Crocodile), Escarlata Ibis (Scarlet Ibis), Pereza (Sloth), Guacamaya Tricolor (Scarlet Macaw), and Jaguar. The movements will be posted here as they are completed.

The first movement represents the Caimán del Orinoco (Orinoco Crocodile) and has menacing characteristics. The large chords at the beginning set the mood and also becomes one of the major unifying factors of the movement. The chords are augmented triads with an occasional added note and they suggest a lot of the musical material that follows. The second unifying factor is the jagged staccato eighth notes that appear in the flute in measure 2. This motif is also built on the intervals from the augmented triad and represents the jagged teeth of the crocodile. At measure 7, the jagged teeth motif is treated canonically and develops through measure 17. At measure 18, the music transitions into the crocodile at rest. At measure 33, the teeth motif appears again as the crocodile is waking up. At measure 38, the crocodile is swimming after prey and this music is also based on the augmented triad. He captures his prey at measure 45. At measure 47, the section built on the teeth motif returns before the coda at 57 recaps some of the ideas of the movement.

The graceful second movement represents the Escarlata Ibis (Scarlet Ibis). The movement is slightly polymodal which adds color to the harmony. It also has frequent tonality shifts. The form is ABCB'C'A'. The texture is harmophonic as the piano serves mainly to accompany the flute. There are a few places where imitation is used for variety. All this adds up to a movement that describes a beautiful and graceful bird.

 The third movement is my impression of the Guacamaya Tricolor (Tricolor Macaw). After watching several videos of these beautiful birds, I was inspired by their beautiful color combination and their antics when interacting with people. This movement is in an ABA form with a short coda. The A sections are somewhat humorous and awkward. There is a lot of chromaticism and polyrhythm. While the piano accompaniment is mainly 6/8, the flute melody is mainly a 9/8 superimposed over the 6/8. This creates phrases that are seven dotted quarter note beats long and results in two 14 measure phrases. This basic idea repeats and develops through modulation and melodic variation. The B section represents the bird in flight and has long lyrical phrases and rich harmony. The coda is my attempt to imitate the bird's voice. Sometimes it makes short chirping sounds hence the grace note figures. At other times, it makes a low dissonant rumbling sound and I used diminished 7th chord tremolos for this. The ending is in contrast to the rest of the movement and hints that there are more movements following it.

Perezosa (Sloth) is the subject of fourth movement. The sloth is the slowest moving mammal and likes to hang upside from trees. This was the inspiration for the first section of this piece.  A Lento 5/4 meter is used to represent the slow movement of the sloth. Most of the melodic figures start high and use downward intervals to represent the sloth hanging from trees. One of the more interesting characteristics of the sloth is that they must descend from the tree tops once per week to poop. This is the time when the sloth is most vulnerable to attack by predators. The middle section of this movement reflects both the descent with a downward melodic line and the danger with more dissonant harmony. The sloth safely returns to the tree tops to complete this movement.

The last movement is El Jaguar (Jaguar). When I think of a jaguar, I think of three things, speed, grace, and danger.  All three of these are present in the music of this movement. The vivace tempo is used for speed as well as the proliferation of eight and sixteenth notes. The meter is a combination of beats divided into two parts and beats divided into 3 parts such as 7/8 and 5/8. These create an edginess to the rhythm and drives the movement forward. Even when the meter is 4/4 and 3/4, the underlying rhythm in the accompaniment is still a varied combination of 2 eighth notes and three eighth notes. The form is an introduction (1-4) A (5-9) B (10-19) C (20-29) B' (30-39) introduction serving as an interlude (40-43) A' (44-48) B'' (49-62) C' (63-end).

Your comments are always appreciated.

Dr. B