Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saxophone Solo masterclass

Susan Fancher, an excellent saxophonist based in North Carolina, visited UF and gave a composition masterclass. Three other students and I wrote etudes for her to play, and she worked them up and talked through them with us.

My piece, Blueprint No. 2, was originally indeterminate. I wanted to explore multiphonics, and base melodies on these multiphonics. Unfortunately, multiphonics on woodwind instruments are notoriously difficult to predict - the same fingerings can produce drastically different results on each instrument. So, in my score, I ask performers to pick their three favorite multiphonics, write them down, then improvise with melodic contours and rhythms I provide, centering around the pitches within the multiphonics. The score is here.

Susan picked three multiphonics but suggested that I write out the piece based around these, rather than having her improvise. She felt that to do the piece justice, she would need to write it out herself. She didn't have much time, but she agreed that some saxophonist in the future might have a lot of fun doing so.

I took her multiphonics and made a second version for her to practice. The score is here, and you can listen below:

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