The Inspiration

Whenever I’m near an instrument I find myself tossing out ideas and fragments of melodies. For the past few months I’ve had a few consistent motives popping in to my head whenever I’m at a xylophone, specifically these two:

Motive A:

untitledcharcoalfragmenta

and Motive B:

untitledcharcoalfragmentb

At the time of this writing, there aren’t very many serious xylophone pieces available besides the old xylophone rags that Bob Becker released years and years ago. So if you want to practice xylophone you can either study orchestral repertoire or xylophone rags. I wanted to contribute to the meager xylophone repertoire and I wanted to make sure it was a uniquely xylophonic* piece.

* xylophonic / zīləˈfänik / adjective.  relating to or characteristic of a xylophone. 

note: not a real word

 

The Process

Xylophones have a short, articulate sound so I had to keep that in mind through the whole composition process. I intentionally avoided any slow, lyrical sections and went straight for fast, technical and contrasting sections. I have a tendency when I compose to just make a staunch decision as if that was the only option. I know it’s not great for a composition blog intended to analyze the composition process but that’s what I do.

  1. Tonal but dissonant. G minor with ‘Ab’ and ‘C#’ dissonances
  2. Four sections: Intro > Motive A > transitional material > Motive B

 

There was nothing particularly academic or clever about the way this one was composed. My goal was to write something that would be both interesting to listen to and enjoyable to learn and play. It took around four hours to write what I currently have. Here’s the composition at the time of this post.

untitledcharcoalforxylophone

I’m happy with most of the piece but I’m not satisfied with the introduction. The phrase-lengths are asymmetrical and the ascending/descending scalar patterns are uneven and underdeveloped. I’m planning on taking some time to experiment with the introduction. I’m not yet sure what I’ll do with the piece once it’s complete.

~ Z

 

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