Birdseed and the Four Pianos

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Birdseed and the Four Pianos is a composition for oboe, clarinet and bassoon which consists of five short contrasting movements. Each movement investigates a different compositional idea or process. Additionally, each movement uses unique harmonic and melodic material (except for the fifth) and develops in a unique way. The first movement is composed to explore timbre contrasts that are possible with the ensemble through the use of timbre trills, a constrained use of register, and harmonies of various types. The second movement features a fugue-like compositional process. This process emphasizes subject development, imitation, and dense contrapuntal textures. The third movement presents a melody and accompaniment that is then passed between the three voices in lyrical fashion. The fourth movement features harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic stasis. The stasis gradually becomes dynamic by varying timbre and texture. The fifth movement is constructed to highlight and combine an aspect of each of the previous movements. Fast repeated notes presenting different linear configurations creates a polyrhythmic texture. Each voice presents a unique tuplet. These tuplets then migrate from voice to voice. Slowly, the pitch content is expanded while the timbre shifts from the first movement evolve into pulses underneath a lyrical melody. That melody, combining features from the second and third movement, is then passed between the instruments and imitated. This section dissolves into a short period of rhythmic and harmonic stasis before ending the movement as it began, with the fast repeated notes as mentioned above. In this way, the fifth movement utilizes contrapuntal material as well as compositional techniques from the previous four movements. In so doing, a progression of techniques and compositional processes of the first four movements culminate in the fifth.

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