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Here is a new chamber work for mixed ensemble (nonet).

Typically, I employ a variable twelve-tone method in my music, but this work was more freely composed.  I employed various PC set-class techniques in a loose, quasi-ternary form (though it is more through-composed than strict ternary).

Cross-relations were important in this work, particularly in the dripping whole-tone (harp/vibraphone) textures behind the rich primary textures.  The viola plays a modular-modal melody above the (often heterophonic) set-derived harmony.

The title is a bit misleading as this piece is more absolute than programmatic music, at least in terms of its composition.  I had a vague memory in my head when I started writing this piece wherein I was walking alone through a sparse, hilly forest on a midwinter night.  Hence, "Winter".

Comments and criticism encouraged!

https://soundcloud.com/hayden-mcgowan-composer/winter-for-ensemble

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Hi Timothy,

Thanks for your comment!  I can't say that I was motivated by either of these motives you've outlined.  I've never written a piece with the intention of being "as far from traditional classical as can be".  In truth, this piece is actually quite conservative when compared to many other contemporary music idioms (i.e. post-spectralism, new complexity, etc).  That said, my decision to use harmonic devices that aren't 'traditional' harmonic languages is always deliberate.  For example, this piece was largely constructed with polymodal structures and PC-set play (plus a healthy dash of free composition).  But that doesn't imply that I try to be as avant-garde as I possibly can, which I think is pretty evident in the piece.  However, I do see where you're coming from in that the piece is obviously not tonally constructed, so perhaps that's what you're referring to.

In terms of the winter theme, as I said in the little blurb at the start of this thread, I didn't start writing the piece with the intention of depicting a winter wonderland scene - I just had a vague winter memory in my head when I started the piece.  So, the winter theme sort of just popped in accidentally, and I went with it!

And as for the last sentence - I agree, a programmatic title primes the listener for a particular interpretation.

Thanks a lot for your comments - I appreciate it!

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