Ewers, Tim [Composer] (2003) Blast. (saxophone with piano accompaniment). (Unpublished)


In undertaking this composition, my aims were: 1) to explore the full pitch range of the alto saxophone including the highest resisters only obtainable through harmonic fingerings and the low register which, for various reasons, is often neglected. 2) to consider timbral variations achieved both through dynamic changes and through the use of alternate fingerings across the whole pitch range of the instrument. 3) to extend methods of tonal organisation first explored in 'Squaring the Circle' (1989, Forward Music) and expanded on in 'Blackheath Counterpoint' (1992, Forward Music) and subsequent works. I have called the tonal organisation technique progressive chromatic tonality as it seeks to establish tonal centres in music of a non-diatonic nature that change over the duration of the piece in the same order as the melodic material changes on the small scale. Initially this involved material that was fully chromatic and progressed through all twelve pitches in the manner of a series. More recently and in this work in particular, I have sought to vary this process and make it more flexible allowing a range of different harmonic densities to be explored while retaining the link between small scale material and large scale structure. In this work I also sought to expand this concept into the field of rhythm and to draw links between the rhythmic proportions of motifs and phrases and between the proportions of sections of the work as a whole, and idea first explored in 'Lines of Communication' (1987) and followed up in 'Altiplano' (1990) and subsequent works. An early compositional decision was to create material that exploited the raucous and inflexible tone of the low register of the instrument rather than shying away from it. This dictated the general character of the music while setting up the opportunity to exploit some quieter and subtler regions of the instrument in order to create contrast. In particular a technique of alternating conventional and harmonic fingerings to create a continuous stream of notes was explored, at the outset, to generate energy and, in the latter parts of the piece, at a slower tempo, to exploit the timbral variation between the different versions of the same note. The piano writing reflects and supports the varying nature of the saxophone material, adds resonance to the textures and, most importantly, provokes the saxophone into action, demanding a variety of responses from it.

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