Monday, September 3, 2012

Day of Labor 2012

I spent today finishing my first saxophone quartet - Taiga Understory. 

In case you don't know, Taiga is the type of boreal forest that is found all through northern Canada (where it is called the Northwoods) and Scandinavia and Russia. Understory (or if you're British - Understorey) is another word for all the things that grow at the bottom of a forest, under the canopy of the trees. I have to admit, this is one time where the piece came first and the name later, although I think the cold, shadowy connotations of the title fit the music. I also like the wordplay of the term understory - like a synonym to subplot. The music is built of two contrasting ideas - an unfolding motive based on four contrasting interval sets, and a chord progression that I worked out one fine day this summer on the piano. Inevitably the two collide. The piece grows from quiet gestures and atmospheric dissonances to a swirling cacophony. I enjoyed taking advantage of the way that a group of saxophones can blend like no other.

I plan on holding a concert of my music this semester, hopefully we'll hear Taiga Understory. 
This is an example of the understory in Karelia.
Not as scary a I made it out to be, I know.
But still - it's the cloying stuff that tugs at your legs when you walk through the forest.