Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Pensive Ploughman

A farmer stands at the edge of his field, his dog sitting at his feet. Within earshot of a nearby stream, he ponders the day's efforts, wondering what else has happened in the world while he worked. As the sun touches the horizon, he offers a brief prayer of gratitude before heading inside for the evening.

The instruments portray different elements of the above description: the clarinet, of course, is the farmer; and more or less, the violin is the faithful canine companion (can't just call a violin a dog, can we?), the viola is the stream, and the cello is the land itself.

It's sort of a companion piece to Shepherd's Call -- while it was finished a little over a year later, it was started exactly two months after starting S.C. I got to thinking that I was working on my second piece for oboe and piano, and Bells (along with the Mozart clarinet concerto) had finally shown me that the clarinet can actually make some nice sounds. So, I decided to write something for clarinet -- and harpsichord! They just didn't get along with each other, but I liked the beginning of the clarinet part, so I thought a string trio might provide a better accompaniment. It did. The opening eighth note figure in the viola brought the picture together, and it was just a matter of fleshing it out from there. The main stumbling block (after the one mentioned in an earlier update) was the transition back to the opening theme just past the halfway point; once that was worked out, the rest fell into place, and I finished it on July 4th -- and went back to that section and finished it again on the 6th. And then once more today.

Musically, it is roughly in D minor / B-flat major (with a middle section in G minor that ends on F major), and the time signature is 5/4, although it could just as easily be in 3 or 4, as the barlines in this piece are mostly there to hold up the staves.

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