Saturday, June 2, 2018

On an Autumn Evening

Okay, so it isn't autumn now, but it was when I started this, so the title stays. It seems that I may have inadvertently written a companion piece to my Riparian Sketch for Small Orchestra -- the two pieces share a similar overall mood, and this one is in D Minor (more or less), the relative minor key to the Riparian's F Major.

While the older piece started with the idea of portraying slowly moving water and goes from sunrise to sunset, this one began with the idea of a meditative piece for piano with strings in the background and, as the title says, is in the evening. Both use a pared down orchestra, but different instruments. In addition to adding piano (initially intended to be the featured instrument), I lost the harp, added some percussion, and trimmed down the winds from 8 to 5 -- oboe, English horn (because I thought I'd be wanting to reach a bit lower than a second oboe could go... and I did!), clarinet, bass clarinet, and flugelhorn (whose part became more trumpet-y later in the piece, and so I changed it to trumpet, using a mute for the parts that had been for the flugelhorn). The only other changes in instrumentation from what I originally had in the score were to drop the marimba and timpani, leaving just a snare drum, triangle, glockenspiel, and (barely used) gong for the percussion section. I resisted the temptation to add more instruments (particularly flute, French horn and either tuba or bass trombone), lest it become too busy and detract from the initial idea; instruments can demand to say certain things (the oboe and clarinet certainly did here), and I had enough going on already for the purposes of this piece. They're also around the same length, with the older piece just a little over seven and a half minutes, and this one just under that. But none of the similarities were intentional; it just came out that way, at least as far as I can tell.

A recurring element in this piece is for an idea to be played three times in succession, with the third occurrence (and often the second, to a lesser extent) being modified, extended, or sometimes hidden among other more prominent parts. I also used something that I've employed in a couple of my larger scale pieces still under construction: doubling one of the inner string parts (usually viola or second violin) with a wind instrument, either to bring out the inner part itself, or to develop that inner line into a theme of its own. I'm sure others have done this before, but I didn't learn it anywhere, it just occurred to me while working on the Frankenstein piece, and once I did it there, it seemed like a natural thing to do elsewhere.

Enough rambling, though... here it is:

This was actually completed in February, with possibly one minor modification made sometime in March or April; not sure why I waited so long to post this (even the above write-up was done back in February), but Windows 10 always replaces the good Movie Maker with the "improved" version on every update, so I have to restore the good one over and over again. Someone tell Billy Gates to cut it out.