Thursday, August 20, 2009


A pleasant surprise sometimes repeats itself: while working on one piece, I discover that I have actually made at least one more along the way.  Recently, sketches and ideas for a quintet soon leaked or mutated into or revealed themselves to be better suited for another ensemble, another piece, in this case a small trio for woodwinds, tentatively named Came and Went, in which a three-player scoring pattern (not quite a Beckett-Gray code, as a B-G code where n=3 is impossible) is played six times, so that all the possible assignments of each instrument to a line in the pattern are used, but the whole is interrupted by moments of repose, not-yet-tonal harmonic passages like that above, which contrast with the patterned passages, which are more ambiguous harmonically (disfunctional-but-not-yet-atonal as is my want) but also more clearly melodic, albeit with a melody well-distributed among the instruments, a gentle hocket.  The quintet is still not done, but — dreaded dynamics aside — Came and Went is all but done and gone.  

An unexpected piece is a delicate matter for a composer.  It was made it out of musical curiosity, not in response to a commission.  On the one hand, there is a temptation to file it away, as a bit of a reserve for a time when a commission is pending but the muse is not around.  On the other hand, when you like the piece and the ideas in it have already settled in your mind and you think players and listeners might like it, too, why not let it go?  


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