Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Adagio Thing in The Sanctuary

Last week I forgot my music, but I went to my lunchtime piano room (hereinafter known as "The Sanctuary") to practice anyway. I ended up just spending an hour on improvisation and exploration, coming up with melodies, incorporating concepts I've learned in theory, and modulating here and there. Doodling and moodling.

So I stumbled upon a really lovely melody. It's not particularly original, in terms of the harmonic progression, but it's a nice melody that I wanted to to explore some more.

So, after a few run-throughs on the piano, I realized that I actually imagined oboe "singing" it, with the piano merely accompanying.

As I wrote and imagined it some more, I started hearing a cello in the background. It starts out doing a quiet pizzicato thing, then it shadows the oboe.

Good enough. But then a clarinet worked its way into the music in my head. Weird. I like the clarinet OK, but it doesn't compare to my three favorite instruments (piano, oboe, and cello).

And the clarinet has taken over. I mean, really taken over. When I imagine this tune now, I don't hear the oboe at all. It's a clarinet. With a cello. And maybe a violin. Piano, where are you? (Piano, you may be relegated to the bench for this inning.) (Sorry, George.)

So then I finally got around to checking out the instrument range chart (duh) on a music theory site and found that my "tune" is written in the clarinet's range. No wonder I couldn't hear an oboe singing it.

I suppose I could move it up a few key signatures if I really want it to be an oboe solo piece. But no ... the clarinet wants it, so the clarinet gets it.

So I appear to be writing a piece for the clarinet. I've been referring to this in-progress "work" as "Adagio Thing." So I guess that's the working title.

I'm hoping to spend a good hour in The Sanctuary working on Adagio Thing. Because it'll be really pretty if I can ever manage to wring it out of my head and onto the page.

6 comments:

  1. Hmm, interesting thing happening here. Your talk of misbehaving instruments reminds me of fiction writers whose characters take over the story.

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  2. No, say it ain't so! The clarinet? Over the oboe? How can you do that?!

    Those clarinets ... they always want everything. ;-)

    But oh well. We oboes. We are mournful. So you have given us more to mourn about. Sorrow is our life. Sigh.

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  3. Violet: My fiction characters do that, too. Argh! No control! :-)

    Patty: Poor you. Poor oboe. Oh well. Don't feel so bad. My beloved piano got kicked out too, and piano and oboe are my two favorite instruments, with the cello fighting the bassoon for third place.

    If I ever learn to be a decent composer (believe me, I am not there yet!), I promise I'll write lots of stuff for our beloved (and underappreciated) oboe!

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  4. If you still want the sound like an oboe, but it has notes below the oboe range, why not try the English Horn? It also has a fuller, richer timbre that crosses into the clarinet sound very well in an orchestra.
    You might also be surprised at how good it might sound in the upper register of the bassoon.
    Since the bottom oboe note is a C (the books say a B but don't try it unless you want a duck sqwawk) and the bottom of the clarinet is an E (untransposed) I assume the problem notes are in that area. What's the highest note?
    Do you use Finale or another software? Writing by hand is very brave these days.

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  5. I actually like playing low B AND low B-flat (yes, we go to a low B-flat, not just B). A good reed and a good embouchure and we can get those notes just fine. You wouldn't want to use them for a delicate sounding thing, but you can use them. Honest!

    But EH is a good option as well. It was my main instrument for many years (until our over 100 year old symphony died ... and no, I wasn't in it for all its years of existence) and it seems to get nearly all the good "stuff" and little else. It's feast or famine for an EH player -- solo or silence.

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  6. Forrest & Patty: I will see how it sounds with an English horn. That's not an instrument I'm very familiar with (I'm VERY much a beginner at this!), but I do love that mournful oboe sound ... and it's the kind of "sound" I had in mind.

    Of course, now that the clarinet has comfortably encsconced itself in my brain, who knows how willing it will be to leave ... :-)

    The highest note (so far) is a G ... which G? Hmm ... Two G's above middle C. Would that make it a G5?

    I have the free download of Finale Notepad. I'm still just learning how to use it. Like I said, I am pretty new at this whole composing thang.

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