New Wind Ensemble piece!

Here's something that I wrote recently, and it was performed at the RCM in the main concert hall.  It's for 16 players: 2 flutes + piccolo (separate, not doubling), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, a+t+b saxes (one of each), horn, trombone, percussion, and double bass.  I went for a more rhythmic and textural (particularly involving layered textures) approach in this piece than in some of my other pieces I've posted.  Let me know your thoughts!

https://soundcloud.com/lara-poe/kuje

Kuje score 11.1.18.pdf

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  • Very enjoyable Lara, thanks for posting.  Pretty accessible really, not a great deal of dissonance or complex rhythms, but nice textures and melodies too. Good sound from the recording.  Doesn't seem real hard to read, did it require a lot of rehearsal?

  • Thanks Ray, and thanks Ingo!  I suppose it's deceptively simple, i.e. it looks easier to play than it actually is.  Since it's such a clear texture, everything has to be really together for it to work, and that's where the hard work comes in– actually rehearsing it to a point where that's possible, even through the tempo changes and everything!  But the ensemble did a great job in the end.  

    I think it got something like 5 rehearsals as a group, each lasting between 1-1.5 hours (I'm only counting the time spent on this piece).  And of course both the conductor and individual players practiced it on their own time.  I don't know exactly how much time they all spent, but it was quite a bit definitely.  In any case, I'm grateful for the hard work they all put into it– the performance came out really well, I thought!

  • Thanks MM!  Do you mean that the texture sounds like there's more layers than there actually is?  That's sort of what I was going for– constantly shifting and changing textures that interlock in various ways (which is also why it requires intense concentration from the players and conductor).  

    The only notes I have on the piece are my own, and I've basically shared my thoughts on it already– different layers of interacting textures, with some melodic bits that transform over time and pop out of the texture here and there.  The piece came about as a request from the wind department head and composition department head at my school.  I knew I'd be working with good players, but not necessarily ones used to new music (which is part of why there aren't any quarter tones and very few extended techniques).  

  • I enjoyed this rain of polyphonic textures where every instrument seems to be telling its own story. I personally would have liked a little bit more drastically intensity changes like some more short quieter or slower parts melting around or maybe moments where suddenly all voices find together to build a more traditional progression just to explode back into polyphonic awesomeness (I have the first movement of Mahlers 9th in mind, although there is much difference obviously). 

    All in all a superb and advanced piece full of life and creativity with a feisty atmosphere in my book!

  • Thanks Timo!  Those are interesting suggestions, and I'm always happy to hear other peoples' thoughts on pieces.  I think I did more of what you were suggesting regarding progressions or voices coming together to build something bigger in a recent orchestral piece (hasn't been performed yet, which is why I haven't posted it at this point– that will happen sometime in the fall probably).  Glad to hear it came across that way– I was trying to create a blend of texture and individual lines that somehow felt unified...?  and it sounds like some of that came across for you at least.  Thanks again for your thoughts!

  • Don’t get me wrong I would not argue that the piece does not feel unified. There is a sense of coherence and the lines and voices are clearly interwoven, referencing and interferencing with each other. Of course this gets even more noticeable after a few listenings. Still they are very independent in rhythm and movement thus telling their own story imo. 

    Regarding the orchestral piece, I am definitely looking forward to hear it once it has been recorded and you post it here.

  • Thanks for this!  Yeah, I figured you just thought that you thought a more homophonic moment (is this what you meant?) could be interesting at some point, perhaps towards the climax?  In any case, it's an interesting idea.  Glad to hear about you feeling that the interwoven, interfering lines feel unified even though they're in separate "layers" (at least they are at times!).  This is what I was going for, so I'm glad that came through.  Thanks again for the feedback!

  • Yes I mean like the voices slide into a more homophonic moment, to form maybe a sonority of fifths and parallel octaves or a sudden unison movement/rhythm texture for a short time, which can surely function very well as a climax. I am thinking of something like a musical rogue wave: 

    „Constructive interference of elementary waves

    Rogue waves can result from the constructive interference (dispersive and directional focusing) of elementary 3D waves enhanced by nonlinear effects.“

    Maybe this makes absolutely no sense (lol) but I think a piece like this would be a perfect place to try to create such an conceptual effect.

    There are actually moments in it that move a little bit into the direction to build something like that  (4:03-4:06 or 6:20-6:30 for example).

  • Hi Lara,

    What seems quite simple on paper,  turns out to be mightily complex and taut and a bugger to follow the score on first hearing, especially as my eye was leaping up and down to catch whatever effects, or prominent parts I was hearing...:-).

    Great piece, single minded and developing beautifully into an ordered frenzy at several points. I was particularly impressed by your polyphony too and the sheer linear determination.

    I can imagine it took a bit of learning, but they did really great with it...especially the timbre of your last harmony...beautifully imagined.

  • Thank you MM and Mike!  Indeed, I suppose the notation does make it seem simpler than it actually is (which the conductor was happy about).  And yes, it did take a few rehearsals to make sure everyone was together and the energy was there, but it went well in the end, so I was happy.  I'm glad the single-mindedness and linear determination came through for you!

    And MM: really interesting to hear this!  I think I get what you're saying, although it's not like there's some inaudible, intellectual substructure at work.  There is definitely a structure, and much of it is driven by different types of material.  It's very much a practical structure and is tied into how the proportions of the piece work.  

    Anyway, thank you both for your thoughts!

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