Saturday, October 03, 2020

Summer Suite, August, 2020 (for Octave Mandolin or Mandocello)


Summer Suite, August, 2020 (for Octave Mandolin or Mandocello)

(Octave Mandolin version pdf) (mandocello version pdf)

1. Queen Anne's Lace (mp3)

2. The Morning Glory (mp3)

3. Dame's Rocket (mp3)

4. The Sunflower (mp3)

5. Prince's Feather (mp3)

By chance, it was exactly one year ago today when I posted the announcement of my Spring Suite for Octave Mandolin or Mandocello. This followed the earlier Winter Suite and today's publication leaves me with the expectation that I will produce a Fall Suite (Autumn Suite?) soon.

Not a cutting edge naming convention but then the music I'm writing for these instruments is not wild and crazy either. I am definitely looking backwards for my inspiration here and my intent is to provide nice tunes for my friends who love to play the big mandolins.

While the first two Suites consist mostly of new music written particularly for these instruments this Suite (and I expect the Fall Suite as well) involves me re-working already existing short pieces taken from my Postcards From the Crater collection. Re-purposing earlier work is a time-honored tradition among composers but I have always tended to think of it as a kind of cheating.

However, while reading Christoph Wolff's recent book, Bach's Musical Universe, a light bulb went off in my head when he started describing in some detail Bach's own re-use of some of his older music (some of it now lost) in new ways. I knew Bach had done this sort of thing but Wolff's writing gave me the idea to use the same approach for this suite.

So I took five of my favorite sections from the Postcards and played around with them on my octave mandolin. I added short introductions to a couple of the pieces, I changed keys a couple of times and I added drones here and there.

The first piece, here titled "Queen Anne's Lace", has appeared in more than a couple of my other mandolin pieces. It's simply one of my favorite tunes and always reminds me of the great James Oswald. I've set it here in a different key with quite a few double stops and drones and even some brief division-like variations. It doesn't need to go too fast.

I have chosen not to present this Suite as an "album" on Bandcamp, mostly because it takes a while to put together. I may do something later though.

I've used wildflowers for titles, as Oswald might have done. The photo above is another shot taken on the trail that leads from Phelps Park out towards highway 52.

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