Friday, May 04, 2007

Ricercare for Wind Quartet I

Well, the double canon between the subject and tonal answer that I wrote out a couple of posts back - the conclusion of this Ricercare - now has an exposition for the beginning. This is going to be a freer ricercare versus a more staid fugue for reasons which will become obvious shortly.

Just to review, here's the double canonic stretto that will conclude the piece (There may yet be a coda after this, but this is the recapitulation):

The double canon between the subject and tonal answer is easily seen.


And now, here is the exposition:

First of all, sorry about the clefs and concert pitch score for all of you traditionalists out there, but I'm a guitarist, which means I can read three more clefs than most guitarists can (LOL!), but transposing is just a bit beyond the pale. Just as there is no crying in baseball, there is not transposing in MIDI (With the exception of octaves, of course).

Then note that I'm using a piccolo and an english horn: The pungent low register of the oboe was just killing the piccolo (I have an amazingly good Symphony Hall soundfont set), so I used the clearer EH there. I may also use an alto clarinet in E-flat later in the piece. In fact, I may have the players all use auxilliary instruments at various points during the piece, including a contrabassoon. Fugal works for four or more voices have a lot of three-part writing, so there will be plenty of long rest periods during which the players can switch instruments. The material is developing out so transcendentally well that this may be the first fugal work I write that comes in at over ten minutes in duration: It just has magnum opus written all over it.


The subject is a desireable odd number of measures in length at five, and the answer is tonal for only the first measure - the rest of it is real. Without a doubt the most amazing thing about this exposition is that the main counter-answer that the clarinet has and the main counter-subject that the piccolo gets afterward are exactly the same except for the accidentals! In the counter-answer, the middle three measures have the necessary accidentals to put the phrase in the dominant region, while in the following counter-subject those accidentals are absent, puting the entire phrase in the tonic (Speaking of tonic, I want a Bombay and tonic - Be right back... ... Ahhhhh! OK. Where were we? Ah, yes: Concerning Hobbits). But the first and last measures of the counter-answer and counter-subject are exactly the same.

Not only that, but the line rises an octave, and I am able to hand it off from the clarinet to the piccolo by having the second thematic statement end on a unison (The piccolo stave is 8va, remember). Then, the piccolo takes over and presents both versions of the line, and rises two octaves into the stratosphere while doing so. This puts the piccolo and the EH three octaves apart at the cadence which will lead to the first episode. Having the three other winds at the bottom of their registers makes for an awesome effect, and this will set up a positively magnificent first episode. I don't know exactly how it is that I "notice" that stuff like this will work, but I do know it has a lot to do with pattern recognition and extrapolation abilities. Like I tell my students: There some things in music that just can't be taught... or bought.


A couple of things: I'm currently allowing for breathing with articulation marks, but I'll probably change that to rests in order to get the durations between the various parts more perfectly in sync, as well as to make it more obvious that it is a stately, open texture that will be very relaxing to play. If I'm going to work these guys and/or gals out for ten-plus minutes, I ought not lead them to believe that I plan to suffocate them during the exposition. Then, the key is not really set in stone at this point: The preceeding string quartet fugue is in F minor, so C minor would work well here, but the following five-voice perpetual canon for string choir is in A minor, so another key might yet be chosen. Well see how the range extremes work themselves out.


There are obviously a lot of different overlaps in the double canonic stretto that could provide material for the upcoming middle entries, but there is also an entire second set available with the inverted form of the double canon. Not only that, but I have noticed that various combinations of the two will also work, so as I say, this could end up being a "ginormous" piece before it's all said and done. I haven't even looked into what combinations of augmented and normal durations will do.

I'll probably be working on this for the rest of the year.


We had our first day over 90 degrees today. I love hot weather.

As well as various and sundry other "hot" things.


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