. Interchanging Idioms: TwtrSymphony Audition Music: Challenging or Impossible

Monday, March 12, 2012

TwtrSymphony Audition Music: Challenging or Impossible

Composers are always up against what's possible vs what's playable. In an audition there is some quest to know/find out the limits of the players involved.

It seems I wrote a fiendishly difficult piece for the strings audition. The section in question shifts rapidly between arco and pizz. The tempo is a quarter note = 100 or 100 quarter notes a minute. Composers are musicians and like all musicians, sometimes make mistakes. Is this section of the audition one of those mistakes?
I thought a lot about this section before I wrote it. The movement of the bow before the pizz is up, so the hand is closest to the strings in preparation for the pizz, and then a down bow following the pizz. My goal was to write something that challenged the players, really showed what they could do. I didn't go to the level of "new complexity" in style, but there is that sense of reaching beyond a player's limits - seeing what choices they make.

Looking at other pieces of music, this sort of technique is rare. Holland Hopson & Benjamin Britten both wrote cello pieces with multiple arco to pizz sections as fast or faster than this one. Granted they are both in solo cello works, still they exist.

The music for the audition isn't necessarily section music. I think if I were to have it played by the section, I'd divisi the two parts where one players plays the arco and the other the pizz to get a much cleaner sound. But in my opinion an audition isn't to hear people play standard stuff; it's to see them play to the cutting edge of their ability.

So, is that a mistake? I don't think so and here is why. First: The TwtrSymphony is a new idea - and the musicians are neither auditioning or playing live. As such - there is room for perfectionism. If you need to play it four or five times to get the perfect recording you can. If you want to try different bowing techniques to show two possible sounds, you can. Second: We will be playing all new music, and as such, for the compositions to be successful, I need to 'push' the musicians in audition so that I can establish the limits for each section. As such, I am putting similar difficult elements in each audition. For the Horns, I am asking odd fingerings, for the flutes fast chromatic runs. Everyone is having to deal with odd meter.

The TwtrSymphony is a chance for all of us to stretch our wings, take some chances, and push for new frontiers. I hope you will join me on the journey.

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