Saturday, December 08, 2012

Sonata in L(ou)

Sonata in L(ou) - score (pdf)
Sonata in L(ou) - Andante (mp3)
Sonata in L(ou) - Grave (mp3)
Sonata in L(ou) - Allegretto (mp3)

Back in the summer of 2010 I received an email from Vicki Chouinard, wife of Lou Chouinard (my friend and President of the Classical Mandolin Society of America), offering to commission me to write a short piece as a surprise for Lou's birthday in October. That birthday would coincide with the annual convention of the CMSA to be held in Seattle.

While I write a lot of music for mandolin, I tend to write either dance tunes or pieces for mandolin/guitar ensemble. I don't often write for solo mandolin in a "classical" context, although my ongoing series of Deer Tracks pieces are the exception to that rule. My first reaction to Vicki's request was to say "no thanks", partly because I had a couple of other unfinished commissions on my plate and partly because of my insecurity about solo mandolin composition.

Before I said no, however, I slept on the idea and I found the next day that some musical ideas popped up that might fit the bill. So the project went forward and I was happy to present my Sonata in L(ou) to Lou at the Seattle convention. I've been intending to share it more widely ever since (how time flies) and here it is.

Part of my insecurity is that my "composer mind" is missing the "write virtuosic music" piece. I'm partly contained by my own limitations as a player, and that's OK with me. Sometimes, though, I'll come up with something that's a little beyond what I can do personally. I truly envy and admire those composers who write music that requires already brilliant musicians to stretch themselves, that just isn't in my current toolbox. Maybe when I mature....

In any event, Sonata in L(ou) is a fun piece for me to play. For a long time I played it almost every day. It's a good warm-up piece and you can treat it different ways. The recording attached here is just the demo I made to show Vicki and Lou one way it might sound. I encourage each of you to mess around with it. In particular, feel free to skip the repeats if you want. I do about half of the time.

A Note about Commssions

Sonata in L(ou) only exists because Vicki had the great idea to ask someone to write a piece for Lou. I'm going write music whether anyone asks me to or not, but when someone commissions a piece I love the idea that I'm going to write something that will definitely be played by someone besides just me.

If you've never considered asking someone to compose a piece of music for you, I encourage you to think about it. It doesn't hurt to ask. While it's always nice when a commission involves monetary compensation, there are no rules about that. Just by asking you put the thought in the composer's head. In the case of Vicki and Lou my first impulse was to say no, money wasn't part of the equation. But the idea was in my head and the piece had a life of its own.

So, if you think you'd like me to write a piece for you or your group, just ask. If not me ask another composer. Maybe a famous one, maybe a college student you know who's studying composition. Put the idea in their head and see what comes out!

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