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Topic: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

  1. #1

    Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

    Hello everybody,

    In 2007 I completed Equilibrium and shared it here on the forum. This new recording and score represent a significant overhaul that I've spent the past couple of months working on. My initial intention was just to use the Garritan Steinway to render a new recording, but found myself making many changes to the orchestration, and after much sweat, I think I've finally come to a place where I'm satisfied.

    Equilibrium for Large Orchestra and Piano (2007, revised 2009)

    Below I've included some of the compositional ideas I used for those interested. The render was done in Sonar 8 PE using GPO, JABB, and the Garritan Authorized Steinway.

    Please take a look and listen. I am happy to answer any questions regarding the piece or my recording techniques.

    Equilibrium – core harmonic and melodic ideas

    The original seeds for the harmony are shown above in examples a-d. The primary form is example a, and b is its intervallic inversion.
    In c we see an extension by way of combining the previous two. In example d, we have a variation that begins to have some prominence at about the halfway mark of the piece (Rehearsal letter N). These ideas are all related by the incorporation of the interval of a major third with the interval of a minor second. In the last case, the second is nested inside of the third.

    Example e shows the M3+m2 idea represented as a scalar passage. This type of scale does not repeat at the octave, an idea that began to fascinate me while working on the second movement of Vesuvius, where I incorporated a scale consisting of the repeated intervals m2+m2+m3.

    Opening bars, incorporating ideas a-e

    Another important motif is shown in example f (top) where a chromatic scale is altered with occasional octave displacements. This idea can be found on almost every page of the score, and especially in the piano part.

    The last big piece of the puzzle comes with what I like to call a mutation filter. It usually comes in the form of a very simple rule or set of rules that is applied sparingly to ideas that have already been put to paper. One such rule that comes up often in Equilibrium is the simple swapping of two adjacent notes in a melody.

    Octave displacement and note-swap mutations

    The lines for the piano in bar 240 and the clarinet in bar 248 are chromatic scales with octave displacements (idea f), further altered by note-swap mutations, circled in purple. The idea of the octave displacements can in fact be thought of as another mutation filter, and is one I employ frequently in other works.

    A combination of ideas

    In this final example, the piano combines ideas e and f in a flurry of notes that wind downward in two waves. The chromatic line (highlighted in orange) begins on the high G#, and descends by minor 9ths, ascends by minor 7ths, then descends again before alternating octaves carry the line to the lowest register. The green brackets highlight sections of the melody that contain the M3+m2 construct in four- and five-note groups.

    Thank you for listening. I would be very appreciative of any comments or criticism.

    - Jamie
    Last edited by Skysaw; 06-18-2009 at 05:07 PM. Reason: Fixed broken images and changed main link for mp3 streaming
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  2. #2

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

    Jamie! - A fairly massive work, beyond the almost equally massive text you provided.

    For now will you please allow me to just say that I had one Hell of a great time listening?! I'm so enthusiastic about your work here that other words allude me at the moment - !

    EDIT: I meant to say that for me there was almost Zero download time. No worries at least from me on an up-to-date cable driven 'puter.


  3. #3

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

    Hi Randy,

    Good to see you, and thank you for the enthusiastic review! I could not ask for more than being able to offer a "hell of a great time listening!"

    I hope the wall of text was not off-putting. I don't mean to make people's eyes glaze over -- I just thought there were probably a few here who might like to read how the piece was put together. I recognize that it's likely a very dry read for most.

    Thanks again.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  4. #4

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

    Hello again, Jamie - I'm glad my brief but very positive reaction sits OK with you. It's a very exciting recording you've posted.

    "...I hope the wall of text was not off-putting..."

    I didn't mean to make you self conscious about that elaborate post with the screen shots et al - It's amazing and thorough, like the page out of a good composition text book. - I don't understand it all really, but I'm sure there are many here who will get it and appreciate it!


  5. #5

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski


    Very professional writing and mixing. An excellent example
    of some fine contemporary music.

    Good to see you back and to hear your music once again.


    Jack Cannon--MacBook Pro (2015, 13") GPO4/5, JABB3, Auth. STEINWAY, YAMAHA CFX, Gofriller CELLO, Stradivari VIOLIN, COMB2, WORLD, HARPS, PIPE ORGANS, FINALE 25.5, DORICO 1.2.10, Mac Pro 2.66 GHz CPU, 8 GB RAM, DP 9.51, MOTU Traveler, MOTU Micro Express, MacBook Pro (2012, 13") 2.2 Ghz CPU, 8 GB RAM.

  6. #6

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

    Great to see you back with us, Jamie.

    I fell in love with this piece the first time
    I heard it; and this recrafting of it has
    only heightened my affection for it.

    Superb writing (Kowalski always is); and
    a fantastically convincing rendering of it,
    my friend. Likewise, my compliments on the
    score and the presentation, here.

    Bravo, Maestro Kowalski, Bravo!

    With admiration,

    David Sosnowski

  7. #7

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

    Jamie, I don't know what to say. It is just great. As etLux said, who fell in love at the first notes, likewise for me. Great composition, the technique, the development and that "drive".

    Right now listening to the second part (low notes on the piano and the accompaniment of the orchestra with the bells). Suspense and keeping the attention of the audience.

    Hello, those basedrums sound really good to introduce the next part. A great trumpet phrase..... I can go on commenting this, but I have to listen, writing distracts me.....

    Done.... great, worth a live performance yesterday.


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Wilton, NH

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski

    Hi Jamie,

    I thought this was great. I enjoyed every moment - it's fascinating. I also appreciate the little glimpse you gave us into the material and methods you used.
    Trent P. McDonald

  9. #9

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski


    Good to see you, and thanks for the welcome back. It's been much too long! Glad you liked the piece.


    I'm flattered you remember this (with affection even!). I appreciate the comments. I am finally very happy with the rendering in terms of realism, but it must have taken about 60-70 mixes before I got there, and I was afraid my ears might have become too saturated with the sound to listen critically anymore, so it's encouraging to hear you found it so convincing.

    Thanks to both of you for listening.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  10. #10
    Senior Member rpearl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Equilibrium (2009) - Jamie Kowalski


    This is a very arresting work, and I mean that in the best possible way. When I saw the size of the file, I thought I'd give it a whirl, but maybe not listen all the way through at first. Well, I couldn't break away: it held my attention from the first note to the last. Interesting, contrasting, and cohesive; what more could one ask for? Great rhythmic drive and propulsion. The orchestration is superb, as is your rendering; even on my less-than-state-of-the-art speakers, the sense of spatial placement came through really well.

    Is there any chance this will get a live performance? I know I have said this about some of your other pieces, but this one truly deserves to be heard in a concert hall. That being said, this was a very pleasurable experience hearing it here.

    Ron Pearl





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