. Interchanging Idioms: Breathing: A New Short Piece for Orchestra... only 2 minutes long

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Breathing: A New Short Piece for Orchestra... only 2 minutes long

I was requested to write something for the Lamont Symphony Orchestra and limited to two minutes - something they could sight read and yet still be an effective 2 minute piece. I submitted two proposals, Breathing and Materia Prima. They opted for Breathing as it has more regular rhythms. Materia Prima has a 13/8 time signature and is probably a bit much to expect a University orchestra, even a good one, to sound good on their first reading.

Breathing was the one selected. I am still writing on the Materia Prima, because I really like the idea and the intense rhythms - but I'll probably lengthen it to 7 or 8 minutes. After a couple weeks work here is a realization of Breathing (not yet seen by the orchestra). This should give you a rough idea as to what I hope they might sound like - if I've put all the dots in the right places.

The concept for the music is the four stages of Buddhist meditation,
     Shamatha – mental clarity
     Vipashyana – thoughts of death
     Samadhi – a higher state of consciousness
     Dhyanas – beyond invisible
  If you really want to argue the four stages, yes, I have drastically over-simplified them. But I only have 2 minutes to work with so consider this artistic prerogative.

You might also complain that the music doesn't sound very Buddhist or even Middle Eastern. Yes, but Buddhism isn't restricted to Eastern cultures (although that's certainly where it started). I am trying to present something that is a Western concept of it - and still fit it in two minutes. Trying to incorporate a piece that would honestly develop four ragas, or even four variations of one raga doesn't seem to work well in the limited time frame. This was composed using the Western (or Germanic) motivic idea - with a bit of the Dies Irae thrown in.

I like the piece. I hope you do too. I'd certainly like to hear your comments about it.

Chip

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