Project

Woodwind quintet #1

Project (M.M., Music (Composition))--California State University, Sacramento, 2011.

My idea in this, my first woodwind quintet, was to compose five movements or vignettes
 that would feature a different instrument in each of its sections. While the five instruments
 comprising a woodwind quintet blend well together, each has its own distinctive voice,
 which is explored along with each instrument’s unique personality and range. It has
 always intrigued me that musical instruments, perhaps especially the winds, have the
 unique ability, without human voice or expression, to elicit a wide range of moods and
 emotions. Humor and tragedy, darkness and light, heaviness and buoyancy, love, fear,
 pathos and much more can quite readily be evoked by any of these instruments depending
 upon turn of phrase, harmony, texture, dynamics, rhythm and the myriad possibilities of
 the interplay between all of these elements and between the instruments themselves. The
 first, third and fifth movements, featuring, respectively, flute, clarinet, and bassoon,
 employ brisker tempos with more upbeat and occasionally humorous melodies while the
 v
 second and fourth movements, featuring, respectively, the oboe and horn, contain more
 reflective melodies at slower tempos. In this way do I hope to communicate, or frame, at
 least some of the feelings, positive and otherwise, which we all experience at one time or
 another.
 Each movement has at least one small solo section for the featured instrument as a
 contrast with the full ensemble sound that gets ample exposure. Major and minor
 modalities are used freely and interchangeably, and while key signatures are not used,
 none of the movements are atonal and all contain key centers, which serve as harmonic
 anchors. One of my goals in these vignettes is to create a harmonic background that is not
 entirely literal and that contains a certain element of ambiguity. This technique is, for me,
 analogous to using pastels as opposed to brighter, more defined colors in a painting, and
 serves as a binding agent, which unites all five movements with regard to harmonic
 accompaniment.
 In order to make more possible the playing of the entire quintet in one concert, I have
 limited the duration of this piece; it can be performed in less than eighteen minutes. As
 such, there is very little development in each vignette. Rather, I have generally
 constructed for each movement an introduction, a statement of themes (usually two per
 movement), connecting or transition sections, a re-statement of the primary theme and a
 coda as a punctuation mark. To provide variety, each of these sections varies in length
 vi
 and the solo sections come in different places from movement to movement, at times
 doubling as the introduction, at other times acting as a respite from the concerti sections.

My idea in this, my first woodwind quintet, was to compose five movements or vignettes that would feature a different instrument in each of its sections. While the five instruments comprising a woodwind quintet blend well together, each has its own distinctive voice, which is explored along with each instrument’s unique personality and range. It has always intrigued me that musical instruments, perhaps especially the winds, have the unique ability, without human voice or expression, to elicit a wide range of moods and emotions. Humor and tragedy, darkness and light, heaviness and buoyancy, love, fear, pathos and much more can quite readily be evoked by any of these instruments depending upon turn of phrase, harmony, texture, dynamics, rhythm and the myriad possibilities of the interplay between all of these elements and between the instruments themselves. The first, third and fifth movements, featuring, respectively, flute, clarinet, and bassoon, employ brisker tempos with more upbeat and occasionally humorous melodies while the v second and fourth movements, featuring, respectively, the oboe and horn, contain more reflective melodies at slower tempos. In this way do I hope to communicate, or frame, at least some of the feelings, positive and otherwise, which we all experience at one time or another. Each movement has at least one small solo section for the featured instrument as a contrast with the full ensemble sound that gets ample exposure. Major and minor modalities are used freely and interchangeably, and while key signatures are not used, none of the movements are atonal and all contain key centers, which serve as harmonic anchors. One of my goals in these vignettes is to create a harmonic background that is not entirely literal and that contains a certain element of ambiguity. This technique is, for me, analogous to using pastels as opposed to brighter, more defined colors in a painting, and serves as a binding agent, which unites all five movements with regard to harmonic accompaniment. In order to make more possible the playing of the entire quintet in one concert, I have limited the duration of this piece; it can be performed in less than eighteen minutes. As such, there is very little development in each vignette. Rather, I have generally constructed for each movement an introduction, a statement of themes (usually two per movement), connecting or transition sections, a re-statement of the primary theme and a coda as a punctuation mark. To provide variety, each of these sections varies in length vi and the solo sections come in different places from movement to movement, at times doubling as the introduction, at other times acting as a respite from the concerti sections.

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