September

This project, a tone poem for chamber orchestra, will be delivered here a bit differently. Since the project itself is a longer form, it will take a longer time to complete. In addition, it will be only one movement. The links above will reflect change over time, rather than separate movements as was the case with previous compositions. When it’s actually complete, I’ll post the results on its own page, with observations, and the others will be removed (not sure yet).

The Composition

Concept. September is the traditional end of summer, on a relaxed, serene pace. It is also the start of many human activities such as school, harvest time, and the commerce associated with the coming holiday season. As you will see in the coming weeks, these two ideas, and the transition between them, will be reflected (at least in the abstract) in the design and implementation of the musical ideas. This is in keeping with the general form of a “tone poem,” of which there are many rich examples in 19th and 20th Century music, and beyond.

Music. In addition, the word “September” is based on the Latin septem– — the number seven in that language. The two major themes in the work are written in 7/4 and 7/8 time signatures, respectively. These signatures are unusual in music, providing an implied moving forward as they are, perhaps, “incomplete” (not the usual 4 or 8 beat lengths). In terms of harmony, this is probably the most tonal of my works so far, since it is based in a major key. But, as always, tonal centers change quickly and jarringly. More about that in the pages to come.

Instrumentation. As my first foray into orchestral composition, the work leverages a small, chamber-style orchestra with strings, woodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon), some brass (French horn and trumpet) and minor percussion (timpani). As my ideas are fleshed out, there may be changes to that.

Final Project. I am eliciting the help of several family photographers in the selection and ordering of images associated with the concept. It is my hope that a video leveraging these images, with the composition as the soundtrack, will be one of two videos produced as a final display of the work. (The other, of course, will be my traditional score video.)

The Delivery.

As stated above, it is my intent that I provide a snapshot of the composition across its various stages of development. The links above will all be to pages which reflect a level of completion at a specific moment in time. When the work is fully finished, the last link will have the final video(s), with notes. The results will be “blog-like,” but more formal. (I will probably remove the other pages — not sure yet.)

The result will be a narrative of the process of writing a composition. I’m very much a “process” guy, so chronicling these things will be instructive to me as I work. Each page will have specifics on theme creation, variation, selection of instruments, even workflow and ideas as they happen. Some of the writing will be theoretical, some will be conceptual, others just fun. As followers, you will have the ability to look over my shoulder as I work. I hope that will be insightful and entertaining. Watch for updates as they happen!

Go to Chapter 1: Themes