Friday, October 22, 2010

V.S. Louisiana Sashay

Here's how things look for now. I may well go back and fine tune some of this, but it feels like it's working, and it's gotten to the point where I think it'll be better to take what's been done as the basis for what comes next rather than to keep adding new elements. 

These images are taken from the working file, but I've left out the alto flute staff to reduce clutter (and because I decided to do the piece first without it so it can stand as a duet), doubled the size of the notation to make it legible here on the blog, and tinkered with the layout for the same reason. My preferred format for hard copy scores is legal landscape with notation around 75% of default. That allows me so see whole sections of music like sentences in a book, as opposed to a narrow newspaper column.

Things start out with a harp solo which is answered by a flute solo. It's much easier to have one player start and the other(s) then join in than it is for everyone to start playing in synch right out of the gate. I hadn't fully realized this until now, but I think all of my ensemble pieces have a single player setting the tempo for others to join. There's also the idea of letting each voice be heard on it's own to set the aural table for the audience. 

The harp has a series chords laying out the basic sashay rhythm. The computer playback tempo is 108 for a quarter note. The chords are missing either thirds or fifths to give them that open sounding harmony I like so much and which should sound great on the harp. Only the last chord is an arpeggio so as to emphasize the rhythm. 
The flute solo generally follows the contours of the harp solo, but not quite - that mixing of the expected and the unexpected. Then another, briefer harp solo, and while it's still ringing from the last arpeggio, the flute comes in on a high C on a pickup and then the harp and flute play together with the same rhythm for three measures. I love high soaring melodies.
Then the flute breaks away doing flutey things with the harp playing simple octaves for a bit. One of the things I'm trying to do is avoid letting the harp slip out of the audience's attention because of its doing something repetitive. And in general I try to vary the textures of the sound as much as all the other elements involved. 

The flute motive in measure 21, 22 and 23 is the closest to mimicking a sashay as I've gotten.

Now the flute plays around with the little motive in measure 19
In measure 29 there's a bit of the unison rhythm again, then in 30 the harp breaks out into arpeggios, and they sort of take off on their own for a while. For now measure 35 begins a reprise of the opening harp solo and I'm thinking of having the flute join in to intensify what has already been heard once. I don't do sonata form style development, but I do like to create familiarity with various elements by bringing them back in different ways. 

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