Percussion Quartet beginnings

The Portland Percussion Group has recently commissioned me to write them a percussion quartet, and now that the academic school year is drawing to a close, my brain has started moving some of my initial subconscious thoughts about the piece into more conscious thought.

It happened rather suddenly; for the past couple of weeks i’ve had some vague ideas of how i wanted the piece to start, but that was all in the back of my mind. Then today, at about 00:30, i had to stop by the office to check on some video stuff, and i had my earphones in listening to the Reward Dream part of the Inception App for iPhone, and out of nowhere my brain started churning about the piece. I had to turn the headphones off. As i left the office about twenty minutes later, i got in my car still thinking about all of these different things and i sat in my car for about ten minutes before finally turning on the ignition. The true beginnings of the creative process.

Currently it’s still a jumble in my head that is split into three parts: musical motives – one in particular that has to do with gradually building rhythms that also have to do with timbre; conceptual idea – i see the piece as being about either a journey or a convergence; and instrumentation – how big of a set up do i want it to be, how many melodics vs non-melodics and what are the roles of each.

The original idea that i had in my head that i’ve now somewhat rejected is “Echo Variations”. The piece may actually have a lot of elements that still fit that theme, but somewhere in my thought process tonight, i decided that i needed the piece to be About Something. Out of the three pieces of music that i’ve written since getting back into the fray, two of them, Timpani Forces and Shifting Signals Zero, have some musical analogies to them but are otherwise not really about anything, aren’t meant to tell a story. Honeysuckle Juice does tell a story, but that’s dictated by a poem that wasn’t created by me.

So i feel it’s time to write a piece that’s actually About Something, and for it to be something personal. I’m not quite sure how i’m going to pull that off yet, but we’ll see. It’s time to grab a blank piece of paper and start drawing.

Mendel Lee

I'm a composer, musician, and music educator residing in New Orleans, LA.

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