07 July 2014

On the adjustment of velocity

Overall, it is a great satisfaction that I am at last moving White Nights from a state of A) a group of numbers which are composed, but whose scores have needed touching up, plus B) a group of numbers which are composed, but which I had not yet finished to even the modest degree of getting them from Finale files to PDFs which I might present to a conductor, plus C) two or three numbers which exist either as beginning sketches only, or as outlines on plain paper, plus D) roughly 25 minutes of music which just plain wants composing . . . to a condition of getting all the work that I have done heretofore ready for the stand(s). Which in turn will prepare my desk so that I can finish composing the remainder of the ballet.

I am on track to get working on The New Composition in August; so the whole ballet complete by year's end, is a realistic goal.

"You move too fast, slow down," as Garfunkel & Simon nearly sang:

As I re-vamp White Nights, in a few places I have found that the metronome marking from (let's round it to ) ten-ish years ago is just too darned fast. The Walk Through the Meadows needed to be allowed to relax a bit. The Scherzo signifying The Dreamer's Elation needed to be dialed back a notch, lest it give the impression of demonic panic. And the most complicated operation of this sort to date has been the Egyptian Dance.

The Egyptian Dance sets out at an easy groove of minim = 60, in garden-variety cut time. All very well. There is then the broad-but-mildly-disorienting 'B' section in 13 (9 + 4). That, too, is all very well, the 2/2 and the 13/8 dancing with grace and verve. The trouble was with the interior 'C' section, which hops around [ 6/16 + 3/4 ] and sundry variants.

The original idea was for the quaver (and then the semi-quaver) to remain constant. But in revisiting the Egyptian Dance this weekend, the woodwind and string figures in the 6/16 proved so very rapid, that I doubt the material would be intelligible in a theatre. And (as Peter H. Bloom and I were saying in another instance), they're such good notes, I think they should be heard.

Slowing down the whole is not practical (both the 2/2 and 13/8 sections would lose their flight). I've opted for a "modular slow-down," of having the dotted-quaver of the 6/16 measure take the pace of the crotchet of the sections before and after. That required some slight tailoring of the seam for the re-transition. On the whole, I think it successful; I am still mulling detail (as well as the possible need to add something, probably not at all much, to one section, to guard against tedium).

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