The Bassoon Quartet is on its way!


This morning, I resumed work on the bassoon quartet. My initial trajectory for the piece changed as I set out to write the piece. I’m thinking it best to focus on 2 things: 1. The ensuing possibilities drawn from the theme (a Honduran folk lullaby) and, 2. The idiosyncratic possibilities inherent in the bassoon quartet. I think the text thing at the end and its political overtones is a bit over the top. I might be able to get subtly political in the way I handle what’s on my compositional pallet
Later this morning, I’ll probably return to the trumpet/ marimba piece. At this stage in the work, I’m focusing on lines and configurations in the two instruments that should pose a challenge to both players.What I’m attempting to do, I suppose, is to appeal to the academic musician’s desire to inspire their students and impress their colleagues and department heads. I don’t suppose that is the purest artistic endeavor on my part but it is an intriguing challenge nonetheless.


I must confess: Writing a piece in theme and variations form is a bit like cheating. Especially when you’re dealing with a beautiful existing melody. With an established melody to work with and an inherent form already in place I’m well on my way. I’ve completed the theme and one variation. The theme begins with a solo bassoon and, after a couple of phrases, is joined by the other bassoons. The first variation presents the theme still intact accompanied by a combination of counterpoint and lush harmonies. When the second variation begins,there’s a sudden shift to a quicker tempo and minor key. The theme is now a ‘cantus firmus ‘of sorts set against parallel running notes in the other bassoons


Yesterday, I hit a snag in the second variation of the bassoon quartet. The challenge was to keep the running notes flowing without sounding too repetitive. I tried nuancing the harmonies as well as the voicing and register choices. Later this morning, I hope to close out the second variation and start on the third .

The sax  choir composition finally seems to have some direction. I think I finally solved the issue I’ve been struggling with regarding how to proceed after the opening statement. This was  primarily by register changes and tweaking of the harmony.


I made some progress towards reaching the end of the second variation of the bassoon quartet. How I proceed from there is unclear.So far the pattern has been slow- fast....

Later during my morning session, I completed the second variation. It works out being four tidy phrases interspersed with chromatic falls.


I intuitively set my tempo to ‘slow’ in the third variation of the bassoon quartet. So, just as I suspected, I’m setting up a slow- fast-slow- fast sequence here. The third variation consists of a chorus of three set against a solo obbligato.

And then there’s the sax choir piece! I’ve prettying much abandoned the rising note theme. Then, earlier in the week, I tried out a bluesy idea. It seems the  piece didn’t know whether to swing or move in straight eighth notes. So today I hit upon an angular, staccato pattern in the alto and tenor saxes. It seems to have a clarity and bite to it. Let’s hope this finally takes hold.


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