29 September 2013
27 September 2013
Down yonder in Charlottesville, Andrew Kurtz led our intrepid student ensemble, the Camerata Rotunda (impishly interpreted by Walter Ross as fat friends) in the original chamber version of Appalachian Spring, with a certain scene restored.
In these latter days, one of my low-impact searches has been for a recording of this very version of the piece. A quest which has proved surprisingly gnarly.
24 September 2013
23 September 2013
It's rather strange that one should feel atypical, or unusual, or out-of-the-mainstream for such a thing, but in composing, as a consistent rule, I am interested in making music. Insofar as my music is a reaction to anything, the great likelihood is that my composition is my own part in an imagined dialogue with beauteous creation, whether human or divine, wherever I perceive it.
18 September 2013
So, the clarinetist has been practicing the Trumpeter, as well he ought.
I've also been studying four scores in which I shall need to rehearse a choir tomorrow night.
I have scrawled a few measures more of just what everyone was expecting.
And the cellist in Tennessee, a conductor in Michigan, and a pianist in Peru have all spoken warmly of Nicodemus.
16 September 2013
There was another sketch in my MS., though, of a marimba passage with a pattern, a sort of mosaic with tremolo notes separated by single attacks. This passage I did not mean as the marimba solo passage, but was one part, and I had in mind adding the clarinet to it.
So, I interposed the 'tremolo mosaic', plus a clarinet part I improvised, at mm. 123-134; and then a variant of this for mm. 146-148. Completely pleased with the result, which (curious to observe) sounds as though all these pieces were designed to flow like this.
After all this, I had three measures of clarinet alone, essentially three sustained notes, and then a quick semiquaver sort-of-descending-arpeggio.
At this point, I had this strange feeling of completely owning all the piece up to m. 160, and then wanting to throw out the three mm. of clarinet alone; thinking that I would toss that, and start afresh.
There was no hurry, though, so I let the matter rest.
As the neurons cooled, I was again aware of the valuable distinction between baby and bathwater . . . and came to feel that the only thing which bothered me about those final three measures, was the rapidity of that sort-of-descending-arpeggio. So I feel that all that wants doing, is to alter the rhythmic profile of the sort-of-descending-arpeggio, and that the character of this altered version will pretty much drive the ensuing section.
Success here has resulted from a combination of the freedom to feel dissatisfaction, plus some patience, plus questioning just what it might be, exactly, that I am dissatisfied over.
15 September 2013
Still, if the track record can be trusted, even if having slept on it I find myself to some degree dissatisfied, I should find a way to repair things.
14 September 2013
No actual writing yet today. Read through Nicodemus some three times, and also through the present state of just what everyone was expecting once.
Fun rehearsal this morning with the FCB choir. Among others, sang the Duruflé Ubi caritas, a Dvorák part-song, the Byrd Ave verum corpus, and "The Heavens Are Telling" from (you guessed it) Haydn's The Creation.
13 September 2013
In reporting my experience, I began by writing, "I shan't give a blow-by-blow." But as I continued writing, I realized that I was, in fact, reporting blow by blow. As that inaugural sentence no longer applied, then, I struck it out . . . .
12 September 2013
11 September 2013
10 September 2013
Last night, I reached the end of Nicodemus brings myrrh and aloes for the burial of the Christ for cello and piano; and in my enthusiasm, sent it right away to a couple of cellists. This morning, I found gratifyingly rapid responses from both Sara (for whom I have written the piece) and Kirstin Peltz.
09 September 2013
And the other, not on paper: I think Nicodemus brings myrrh and aloes for the burial of the Christ is finished.
Partly a result of the fresh air up in Ipswich yesterday afternoon (and breezy as the day was, the air certainly was fresh), but whilst my head lay on the pillow yesternight, ideas came readily to me, both for the further pursuit of the clarinet/marimba duo, and for the apt conclusion of Nicodemus brings aloes and myrrh for the burial of the Christ.
08 September 2013
While I am eager to return to the ballet, there's a sense in which I'm not worried about it, either . . . I feel somehow that when the planets are in proper alignment . . . anyway, the whole recital series cancellation thing (among other aspects) at St Paul's has been the large gorilla in the room, to a degree.
But also, I am trying to dance with that, to make it an occasion to create, rather than allow it to be a disruption in itself. A newish acquaintance is a voice teacher at NEC, and she has expressed interest in putting a recital together, so my musical backburner (and all my music has been backburner, of late . . . well, since the clarinet solo [the Studies in Impermance], anyway) has been occupied not only with "back to the ballet", but also what to write for Barbara and myself.
I've naturally gravitated to Whitman (samm's poem is a beauty, and I should be delighted to set it, but I'm looking for something larger-scale), though this is perhaps not the right occasion to set "Song of Myself" . . . but "Mystic Trumpeter" leaped out at me, and I was mulling thoughts on this when my head rested on last night's pillow . . . and got some good sketching done on the bus and subway in to the MFA this morning.
07 September 2013
The contrapuntal application of the cello tune (none of which I've yet shown you) turned out startlingly well. At first, I found that the tune works very nicely as a strict canon at the fourth; so my work yesterday (and probably begun the day before) was to decide what I wanted to do for a third voice. I discarded three attempts at a solution, most of them in the spirit of keeping the repetition strict. The apparent problem with those first attempts, was the pitch-world, which wound up expanding in ways I did not wish for this piece. But as I set to the fourth attempt, I understood that my deeper concern was, that with a third voice about the same business, the rhythmic profile was getting too active. (That consideration, plus the pitch-world, would really have pulled a delicate piece entirely out of shape.) So the solution for the third voice is a rhythmic augmentation, and for the sake of the harmonic interplay already established by the 2-voice canon, I alter the contour as I see fit.
That was the work on my train rides yesterday. And I hoped to fold that into the Sibelius file this morning. Which I did (I thought I might be able to export a pdf file to send you this morning, but the time grew short, and it would have been tempting Fate), and the cool tenderness of the result is all that I might wish.
I need to discover just what wants doing for the final section, now. But I'm letting that rest, and my work on the bus just now was the start of the clarinet/marimba duet for Tim Phillips, just what everyone was expecting.
06 September 2013
05 September 2013
Today's work was modest, a cello monody. Simple, but with (I think) a nice shape. The judgment could go either way: when I review it tomorrow, maybe I'll toss it out; or, maybe I'll still like it, or indeed like it better.
Had a look today at a structure which, though non-agricultural (in present use), looked like a barn. The land was likely a farm previously; so it would not surprise me if it turns out to be a renovated barn.
The "El Bozo" side of Chick Corea's My Spanish Heart album has really grown on me over time. I seem to remember the electric keyboard not appealing to me at all on my very first listen.
Had the odd thought, while a couple of co-workers in the shop discussed fanciful T-shirt designs, of the Boit daughters canvas, with the daughters cut out. Not a suggestion, really, it was just a peculiar thought.
Sometimes, I feel as if I really ought to have gotten more accomplished, on a given day. But, then again, I did run some errands, and went for a walk at the pond.
04 September 2013
02 September 2013
- The character of the opening fits the suggestion admirably.
- I had already written the canon so the flute and clarinet should stay out of one another's registral space . . . the greater expansion of the range with the substitution of the picc. may make the whole passage a bit more dramatic.
- The only thing I perceive as a possible 'loss' as a result, is the unison on the last note.
01 September 2013
There was time left to bring the rest of my sketches for Nicodemus into the Sibelius file. That task done, I was at a What now? point . . . so I went for a walk around the pond. On my walks, I generally find I pass through the following twenty-ish-minute phases:
- Getting into the physical rhythm;
- A sort of mind-flush, getting rid of mental residue; and
- A refreshed clarity of mind, in which creative work can again flourish.
Thus it was that, while I walked, I saw clearly how I wanted to get from the present end of the Sibelius file (roughly the three-&-a-quarter-minute mark), to the end of the actual piece (total duration of probably five and a half minutes).