Je danse, J’apprends

Opening Movement: La Spagnoletta (updated 3/21/2023)
Vignette #1: Jig (updated 3/21/2023)
Vignette #2:…

[The above will be stubs until exports are completed and available.]

The title of this project is French for “I Dance, I Learn,” a reference to the traditional goals in my work, and the music I use this time around. This will be a suite of studies in dance rhythms for piano quintet and percussion (piano, two violins, viola, cello, and a single percussionist playing several different instruments). As of this writing there are the beginnings of three movements, but there isn’t a final count.

Each movement will feature a different percussion instrument and will begin with a brief percussion solo serving as an introduction to the full movement. I haven’t decided if the entire composition will be strung together as a single piece, or with completely separate movements — but no matter, I’ll probably deliver each of the movements as separate excerpts as I work.

Learning Goals of This Piece

As is my habit, the first goal is to explore the ins and outs of writing for new instruments — in this case percussion (marimba, concert toms, snare…), though this is also my first attempt to write for piano. (As many of you know, I am not a pianist, so that’s hard work too!)

The second goal is to explore rhythm as a primary thematic resource, specifically dance rhythms. My research started with traditional Baroque dance styles/rhythms, but I quickly went off the rails on that. In any case, you can expect rhythmic patterns to serve as much of the fodder for music development in this work, given flesh by the percussion.

I also intend to explore an intentional “educational” goal — the introductory percussion solos will serve as “outlines” — thematic ideas and overall structure in a much-reduced form. The full ensemble will then perform the fleshed-out and longer version of the themes, structure, and development. Despite this self-conscious structure, each movement should flow as a single unit.

More to come!