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Topic: "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt

  1. #1

    "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt

    Here is an excerpt from a fun new piece I'm working on. The working title is "Visions," though I'm not sure I like that. The idea is a suite of miniatures that depict dreams or hallucinations. This material grew out of work I was trying to do on part 2 of Vesuvius (posted elsewhere in the Listening Room). I liked what I was writing a lot, but it didn't fit in with the other work, so a new piece was born. This section is a dance, but with a dark impish flavor to it.

    Visions excerpt - 3.8 MB

    I really like some of the sounds combinations I've come up with for this piece. My favorite example starts just a second or two before the 1-minute mark. The combination of two flutter tongue flutes and English horn in its lowest register over pizz strings and harp makes for a very interesting texture.

    This piece is really all over the place stylistically (even in the brief two and a half minutes section I offer here). It begins about as close to atonal as I write and somehow finds itself in the middle of diatonic land with the section that begins right about at the halfway mark. Imagine the opening as an intro to this movement, which will be repeated in different variations for the other sections. Perhaps it is the trance-inducing process that invokes the vision that follows?
    Last edited by Skysaw; 07-19-2006 at 11:44 AM. Reason: updated link
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  2. #2

    Re: "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt

    Nice subject for a composition, nice story too, to tell to the audience in a concert program. keep working on it...

  3. #3

    Re: "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt

    Some fascinating orchestration in this, Jamie!

    I very much look forward to hearing where this one goes -- and to how you manage to tie it all together.

    Which I have confidence you will somehow do... lol.

    All my best,


  4. #4

    Lightbulb Re: "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt

    Good stuff -- A lot of cool ideas in here. It's good to hear some interesting new textures and colors, which you use very well. Kind of reminds me of sophisticated cartoon music, and I mean that as a high compliment. Carl Stalling (the Loony Toons composer) is one of my heroes, and I owe my sense of timing to him.

    Are you familiar with Chris Rouse's "Phantasmata"? It's an orchestral piece in 3 movements, also depicting visions/hallucinations. It's one of the pieces that inspired me to go into composition. It's worth checking out, especially if you tend to have visual imagery in mind when composing (as I often do).

    I vaguely remember reading that somebody here studied with Rouse--maybe he/she has some insight into the genesis of "Phantasmata?"

    Great piece Jamie, I look forward to hearing more in this series -- your music tends to be right up my alley, and this is a prime example.


  5. #5

    Re: "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt


    If I were you I wouldn't worry about "tying it all together." I think structure is overrated. Sure, it's a useful tool when used correctly, but sometimes it's perfectly fine to let a piece meander where it will.

    John Corigliano gave a master class for my composition seminar when I was in grad school. He said that when he composes, he tends to spend months and months just sketching out the form, or the blueprint, of a piece before he actually sits down and writes any notes. He said that a lot of composers get stuck because they try to build a piece of music off of a theme or a motive. He compared this to trying to build a Cathedral based on the small corner of a window.

    While I agree with him to an extent, I think this is just one paradigm, and that a composition doesn't necessarily need to be treated like architecture. I recently found this quote by David Lynch (the filmmaker), which kind of blew my mind because it summed up the way I feel about composing:

    "There's something deeply satisfying about directing the flow of water."

    Personally, I love music that jumps from one idea to the next at the drop of a hat. Paradoxically, I also like meditative music that stays on one idea for hours (i.e. Morton Feldman, Arvo Part, some Reich and Adams). But in general I don't see the need for an excessive reliance on formal structure. It's a useful tool, but not an indespensible one.

    I think your piece flows like water, and you should keep it that way. After all, we're talking about dreams, visions, hallucinations, etc. Dreams and hallucinations jump from one idea to the next seemingly at random, so it makes sense that any music depicting them would do the same


  6. #6

    Re: "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt


    This is a very interesting piece. I enjoyed the full of colors filled in the track.

    Jun Yamamoto
    Tokyo, Japan

  7. #7

    Re: "Visions" Orchestral suite excerpt

    This was much different than what I thought it would be - much more mild, full of tone colors, not psychotic. Really very pleasant. But much too short.


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