Saturday, September 17, 2022

Three Miniatures for Woodwind Quartet

 This one has a kind of strange origin. I started working on something for woodwind quartet, but decided that the idea was too big for just a quartet. At the same time, I had gotten an idea for piano that woke me up one night last week, to the point that I had to get up and write it down so I wouldn't forget. While working on that the next day, I decided to see how it would sound with the woodwinds, but early on made the decision that the woodwind treatment would follow serial rules, which the piano piece (still in progress) did not. 

Meanwhile, I had also recently started something for full orchestra that starts with a loud open F chord -- mostly F's, with only 4 instruments on C (no A's), and so it occurred to me to tack on something in the woodwind piece that opened and closed with just 4 octaves of the same note -- in this case, D. The serial piece and the "4 D's" were the same slow tempo, so I thought it might be good to throw in something between them that was a little peppier, and since the bassoon didn't enter the serial part until near the end, I opened this interlude with something that to me seemed very bassoon-y. Here it is; I've had it up on YouTube for over a month now; not sure I waited so long to put it here:

Monday, July 4, 2022

Perenepsis XXII: Contemplation

 As promised (or threatened, depending on your point of view), here's #22. Apparently, #21 didn't exhaust my desire to repeat notes over and over again. This one maybe presses the point even harder, consisting almost entirely of A's for the first 45 seconds. After a brief diversion to G, it goes back to A before opening up some when it shifts to C. It stays there for a while, then a couple more changes before  the ending. As mentioned in my YouTube description, this is inspired by Gregorian chant, but obviously not an actual emulation of it. The tempo (80 bpm) is a bit faster than #21's 50 bpm, but doesn't feel much faster, because it uses mostly quarter and half notes, with occasional 8ths and only 2 16ths, and it's in 5/4 all the way through -- with the sameness of the notes in the beginning, it felt like it needed an atypical rhythmic flow. This one was finished a couple weeks ago; no need to let it ferment any further.

As for what's next, I have no idea. It could be #19, but probably not. It could also be something for string quartet, but if it's a movement of my String Quartet #3, I think I'll wait until all 5 movements are done (one is done, a couple are nearly done, and two others not quite nearing completion), so it may be just a standalone item, possibly even something for orchestra.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Perenepsis XXI: Fulcrum

 Now that I've decided not to let #19 hold things up, here comes more stuff, also finished about a month ago. This piece is based on the idea of keeping one note constant while moving other notes around it, hence the subtitle. The static note does change over the course of the piece, so as not to limit the range of notes used, and there are passages that don't repeat/hold a common note, but that's the overall idea. The tempo is slow (50 bpm), so even 16th notes don't seem very fast, which is why I had to resort to 32nd notes in places -- and even those don't seem too quick. I guess it's mostly in D, but wanders a good bit -- each note of the D natural minor scale serves as the "fulcrum", most multiple times. In fact, the final chord is technically an inverted F major chord, but the lead-in to it makes it sound more like a Dm7 with a missing root, so yeah, I'd say it's in D minor overall. Not much more to say about this one:

I'll probably be posting #22 tomorrow; meanwhile,  #19 continues to be a problem child.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Perenepsis XX: Beach Music

First of all, about the subtitle. This probably isn't what most people would think of as "beach music", but it is, in the sense that it could be played at a beach -- if you're willing to risk all that salt air ruining your piano. Otherwise, it probably doesn't make much sense, but it's mine, so I can call it whatever I want, and I'm getting tired of the "not a waltz" gag (by the way, this isn't one, either, despite being in 3/4).

There are two gaps here -- first, the almost eight month gap from my last posting. Again, it's not that I've been doing nothing, just that I didn't happen to finish anything during that time... well, except for this one, which has been finished for about a couple of months, which leads to the second gap.

My previous post was #18 in the Perenepsis series, and I'm skipping straight to 20 -- what's up with that? That's part of the reason for the time gap; I thought I'd be done with 19 before now, but there are still some things to be worked out in that one, and I now have three finished pieces that are being held up (#s 21 and 22 are also done). I remembered how long the gap between 3 and 4 was, and #5 (and maybe a couple others) ended up being done before #4, so this isn't just me posting out of order just because I can (which I've done before), I just happened to finish these and don't want to hold them up when I don't know how much longer #19 will take, especially considering that I might leave 19 alone and work on some other things for a while.

As for this piece itself. the three opening chords serve a specific purpose. The piece is based on a D7sus4 chord -- DACG (from bottom to top). It could be any of several modified chords of other keys, but in order to give it context, I followed the opening chord by Gm then A7, to make it clear that the key is D minor. The overall form is ABA, with the B section being kind of a development section and the second A a moderately ornamented repeat of the initial A section, except finishing back at Dm (without the 7th or 3rd, but with an added 4th) instead of Em as the first A section does . The A section itself is based on exploring the opening two-bar idea (after the intro chords) of quarter, dotted quarter, eighth, dotted half, a very simple little motif. I almost decided to go in another direction around the 3 minute mark at that Dm9 that resolves down to a plain Dm, but then realized that if I just went into a final cadence there I had something that was balanced nicely into thirds. Plus, by that point I had already started on #21, and wanted to finish this one. Also, although the piece is in 3/4 overall (but, as previously mentioned, not a waltz), each section, including the intro, is set off by ending in a bar of 5/4. Why? Because I liked the way it sounds that way.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Perenepsis XVIII: Oscillations

 Guess what? Yep, another piano piece. While working on some of the string quartet stuff, I got to thinking about the previous four pieces and how they were all either slow or at most andante, and that I should do something a little peppier, or maybe just peppery.

Also, in #17, I had done something in creating the beginning part of the secondary theme that I thought might have more  possibilities -- specifically, the use of increasing and decreasing intervals, which creates lines that are kind of like a cross between a scale run and an arpeggio; for example, C-D-F-Bb-F or C-G-C-Eb-F (the E needn't be flat). That's with them all going in the same direction; you can also alternate directions, getting something that turns in on itself: C-G-D-F#-E (and the F needn't be sharp). You can append one instance at the end of another, and so forth. And that's how I got this.

There are lots of fast runs in this, but along with the fireworks are the occasional slow passages, just to be able to catch your breath. A lot more chromaticism with this one, although it's more or less centered on A, but not really major or minor (the final chord contains 4 A's, a D and an E, just to avoid making it either). And, being as fast as it is, it's also rather short, just about two and a half minutes, in order to spare both the fingers and the ears. Needless to say, this one's even less like a waltz than #15 (the one that I explicitly declared to be not a waltz), so there's no need to mention it.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Perenepsis XVII: Chorale

Okay, so I said not to expect anything else soon, but I was digging around in the scraps of the abandoned original Perenepsis IV (which has no relation to the posted Perenepsis IV) yesterday and started playing around with parts of it, which led to this, although it contains none of what was already in that particular manuscript, so all of that is still there as a potential source for more material. This is very straightforward both structurally and harmonically, although like the preceding installment (which is not a waltz), it's also in 5/4 -- and coincidentally, is also not a waltz. I'm not sure it's really a chorale, either, but it's close enough for me to call it one. I could also call it a penguin, but that would just be goofy.

Now, I could promise a new piece next week, but if I did, chances are that I'd have nothing. Or, I could say again not to expect another any time soon and end up posting a new piece next week, so I think that instead what I'll do is say nothing and leave everyone guessing, including myself.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Perenepsis XVI: Cantus Tenebris

 This is getting ridiculous now -- nothing for over nine months, then two in two days, and another a couple days later. I'm not sure how this all came together so quickly, but this is the other main idea from the former Perenepsis XIV score. The old score contained two versions of the beginning of this idea, one in good old 4/4, and this one in a 7/7/9/7/7(/7) pattern (mostly), which I found more interesting. It's kind of a theme and variations, or more like 8 restatements of the same basic idea, based on a sort of Gregorian chant-inspired motif. This, together with the dark nature of the material, gives us the subtitle Cantus Tenebris. It starts out in A minor (mostly Aeolian mode, though -- no raised 6/7 until the end of the third time through, which is the only four-bar cycle) for four cycles, then three times in E minor (again, more Aeolian at first), then back to A minor for the final time through. This is actually the oldest of the three recently posted piano pieces, at least going by when they were started, and in terms of length, at 5'21" it's almost exactly halfway between the two others.

I guess this piece might sound pretty gloomy, but as I mentioned in Reverie, my music doesn't always reflect my mood at the time, and this is one where it definitely doesn't. I'm not really sure where this came from, other than that I liked the first two bars, and everything else arose from that, and there was no way to make it into a snappy little dance tune, so it is what it is.

The funny thing is that during the long gap of no new pieces from December 2020 through this October, I hadn't done much work on piano stuff; a lot of work on the symphony and a few different things for string quartet (I thought I had finished one of the quartet pieces but then decided the ending was too abrupt), but the Reverie idea came to me and I had to finish it for some reason, and then finding the old Perenepsis XIV score with four separate ideas in it (I decided to discard two of them, one of which was just an odd chord progression that was more interesting than entertaining, and a twisted waltz theme that maybe needed a little straightening out) led me to flesh out the two more substantial ideas there.

Now it's back to the strings and orchestra; there will be no continuing flow of daily or weekly posts, which is probably more disappointing to me than to anyone else.