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Archive for April, 2011

Goodbye imagists, hello trumpets

Imagists

After what seems like years, but was probably four or five months, I’ve finally finished my Songs on Imagist Poems.  So this is six songs on texts by a range of poets from the Imagist movement that thrived in the first part of the twentieth century, including F S Flint (three poems), D H Lawrence and Ezra Pound.  They track a trajectory from foreboding (with the menacing image of a swan destroying peace by a river) through pain and death to a complex and mystic rebirth in Pound’s A Girl:

The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast –
Downward,
The branches grow out of me, like arms.

I’m not sure if the music lives up to this.  It’s certainly among my most inventive, particularly in the piano writing, as well as being rhythmically extremely free, with much use of clustered runs of quintuplets and sextuplets.

So, the next step is to tidy the score up and get it to the point where it looks vaguely civilised, and then I can settle  down to the serious business of trying to persuade someone to perform it.  But before I do that I’m going to have a bit of a rest.

Trumpets

And during that rest I can think about the next piece, a Trumpet Concerto.  Two things I seem to be converging on are as follows:

  • Use a relatively small orchestra, so probably 4-2-2-3 2-0-2-1, but with unconventional dispositions, e.g. most likely both trombones will be bass instruments.  Note the complete absence of orchestral trumpets, so as to leave the soloist alone at the top of the brass texture.  Strings will probably be subdivided, so four groups of violins and two each of violas and ‘cellos.
  • The basic model is something along the lines of Schmidt’s Fourth Symphony, which, of course, has a very important part for solo trumpet.  I’m not saying this is going to be a rip-off, but a single movement work emerging from an idea on the trumpet and eventually vanishing back into silence is the idea I’m toying with.  Of course, knowing me, It’ll turn out to be incredibly violent, but one can live in hope.

So, that’s the plan.  Now we just need to see what happens.

Aequale

10 April, 2011 1 comment

TrombonesHuh?

According to Wikipedia:

The aequale has become established as a generic term for short, chordal, three or four part trombone pieces. Old church music regulations from Linz show that such pieces were used at funeral services in Austria. The performance of such pieces from towers on All Souls’ Day and the previous evening has an association with the funeral service. The theological meaning of the trombone as a symbol of divine presence, the voice of the angels and instrument of judgment is thereby underscored.

Notable examples of aequale are Ludwig van Beethoven’s Three Equale for four trombones and Anton Bruckner’s Two Aequale for three trombones.

So?

Well, I’m gonna write me some aequale of my very own.  Only I’m being a non-conformist, so:

  1. They’re going to be written for five trombones (ATTBB)
  2. Only the prelude and postlude will be chordal; the aequale proper will be strictly polyphonic, probably largely based on a series of canons

So there, see what you can make of that, Wikipedia.

And no, this doesn’t mean that someone I know is dead, or that I’m planning that someone I know will be dead.  On the contrary.  I wanted to write a short occasional piece, and a group of trombones seemed like a nice sound for the kind of writing I had in mind (for those who know it, think the epilogue to the finale of Mahler’s sixth symphony).  I’m hoping to get them done by the end of the week, and then I’ll put them up for viewing once my intended target has arrived.

So watch this space . . .

Categories: Work in progress

I’m going public!

Yes, that’s right. In a fit of mad extravagance, I’ve decided to throw myself open to the public and created a store over at SibeliusMusic. So, if you go to http://stores.sibeliusmusic.com/portertones then you can have a look at the scores, have a listen, and even buy them if you feel so inclined.

I have no idea how this is going to work out, but it must be worth trying, mustn’t it?

First up are my:

  • Violin sonata, going for a snip at $9.95
  • Sonatina for sopranino recorder, currently FREE, but soon to retail at, er, well, less than $9.95

So make me happy and get downloading.  Or writing reviews saying how I’m the next Hindemith.  Or something like that.

Categories: Uncategorized

Welcome

So, this is the first post on Portertones.  I thought a quick discussion of what this site is for, and then an update on where I am now, musicwise.

What’s it all about then?

The idea is this:

  1. To have a central place where sound files of most of my pieces and scores for selected pieces are available for you to listed and read.
  2. To let people know what I’m doing musically (though why you’d want to know . . .)
  3. To give people a chance to comment on my stuff (constructively, I hope).

I used to do the first thing over on www.porternet.org, but it couldn’t allow for the interactive features, plus managing it myself was just too much hassle.

So, what we have here is a blog (which you are reading), pages for the pieces I’ve made available, and a ‘what I’m planning’ page.  Please explore and comment.

What am I up to?

Currently I’m finishing off  cycle of six songs on texts by poets from the Imagist movement.  In fact, I’m just starting song six of six.  Then I think I’ll have a bit of a rest, and then it’s the Trumpet Concerto.  I’m still not sure what to do about that one, but I do know that the idea is to essentially ‘borrow’ the concept of Schmidt’s fourth symphony (which, of course, begins and ends with a solo trumpet).

Categories: Uncategorized