With the premiere of Almanac coming up tomorrow, I wanted to share some sketches and other goodies from the piece. If you’re curious about nerdy composer stuff, read on!
Movement III – Oystercatchers in Flight
The first part of Almanac that I wrote was a setting of Eamon Grennan’s poem “Oystercatchers in Flight,” which is now the third movement. To help constrain my pitch choices, I used some *gasp* serial technique! I can’t say that I use it a lot, and Schoenberg and Babbitt wouldn’t be too happy about how I used it here, which is to say relatively un-systematically.
A lot of the pitches in the movement are derived from this twelve note chord (labeled P0 in this first sketch).
The chord features a lot of different colors that I like—stacked fifths, whole tone segments, and this kind of major-7 with a sharpened/distorted octave on top. From there, I started writing the vocal line, which you can see in this second sketch.
The first segment uses pitches from that original chord, but the later segments were written much more intuitively. After writing the line, I figured out serially-derived alterations of the main chord that would more-or-less fit the different melodic segments, which you can see in the third sketch.
With all of those materials in place, it became a matter of writing lines that fit the harmonic plan and helped place the voice in the middle of a cold but kinetic landscape, like in this score example. Continue reading