Easy Going- Tough Going




 The 4th variation of the bassoon quartet came together with relative ease. After establishing a modified ‘punta’ beat ( see the previous blog)comprised of lower voice down beat- inner voices off beat, the variation seemed to almost write itself. It was just a matter of the  placement of the melodic line- offsetting here, delaying there. In order to catch the listener off guard,I slightly shifted the rhythmic pattern at odd moments and  put the harmonic patterns slightly off course.

The 5th variation is kind of an augmented version of the third variation. The first couple of phrases build with slow imitative entrances culminating with a mournful melodic entrance in the first bassoon.
I continued work on the 5th variation and am at a point where I am anticipating the final section of the piece. Which brings to mind the reasons I’m composing the work in the first place: Besides having the honor to write a work for the Luftbassoons, I was compelled to use the piece as a vehicle to express my contempt for this country’s immigration policies. The newspaper image of a mother with her young child who had to flee Honduras because of gang violence sticks in my mind. This might explain my choice of a Honduran lullaby as a theme of the composition.
When I’m nearing the end of a piece in my composition process, I sometimes run into snags. I think this is  a  result of my keen desire  to reach the final double bar rather than be my more methodical self. Such was the case today. Whereas yesterday the work on the ‘punta’ variation went quite smoothly, today’s session with the fifth variation was just the opposite. I was attempting to present the slow moving patterns with slow twists and turns but something seemed off.  Now I’m beginning to wonder whether this variation has become too late romantic sounding and too derivative.
On second thought, I think the fifth variation is affective. With a bit of self analysis of sorts, I see that I am making a meaningful connection to the third variation.Here I am presenting slowly moving chromatic lines, once again with the 3 to I formula. The slow moving lines are in the lower three voices with a kind of ‘pleading ‘ answer in the upper voice. So, in a sense, what I’m doing is a kind of augmented reprise of the third variation. With the 5th variation provisionally in place, I began the next section which has yet to get off the ground.
The last section of the bassoon quartet piece is beginning to take shape. Now evan  slower imitative entrances  in the four instruments come together in chordal statements. I can now foresee the final
portion of the piece comprised of three moving pieces: 1. A walking bass line in the lowest instrument. 2. Intermittent ‘punched’ chords in the inner voices, and, 3. A final modified statement of the lullaby. I hear it being broken up into a few choice statements. We’ll see how things go tomorrow.

The opening section of the sax choir piece seems to be changing drastically from day to day. This now seems to be the new normal. I end a session on the piece feeling hopeful until the following day when I choose  to scrape the whole thing. There’s an array of criteria that go through my mind, but basically, it’s a gut reaction.Yes, Now I’m hopeful about the the current effort but.....


I feel I have what’s turned out to be the 6th variation is working to my satisfaction. The final variation does begin with a steady walk, but in the third bassoon’s middle range rather than the 4th bassoon’s lower range. A broken version of the lullaby melody would seem to work along with the walking accompaniment, but I can’t seem to find a role for the inner voices. So as weeks go, this was a week of mixed blessings.
Next Week: Ritornello for tuba solo

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