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Joan Tower Style and Performance Considerations in Three Works Involving Flute by Joan Tower: Snow Dreams, Valentine Trills, and A Little Gift. Dr. Tammy.

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Presentation on theme: "Joan Tower Style and Performance Considerations in Three Works Involving Flute by Joan Tower: Snow Dreams, Valentine Trills, and A Little Gift. Dr. Tammy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Joan Tower Style and Performance Considerations in Three Works Involving Flute by Joan Tower: Snow Dreams, Valentine Trills, and A Little Gift. Dr. Tammy Evans Yonce 41 st Annual National Flute Association Convention Sunday, August 11, 2013 New Orleans, LA

2 Joan Tower Who is Joan Tower?

3 Joan Tower Contemporary American composer Born 1938 Considerable body of works, Grammy award winner, many commissions Influenced by music of Bolivia and Peru.

4 Early Style Began as a serial composer – This was taught in academia and “everyone was doing it.” – She felt insecure as a composer. – Accidentally became a composer. Originally was a pianist. – First experiment with composition as an undergrad. Later – MM/DMA at Columbia.

5 Specific Use of Serialism “Precompositional maps.” She created these to help her make musical decisions. Included pitches and sometimes other elements of the work. She could then spend more time thinking about other elements of the work.

6 Stylistic Changes 1975 As she developed her skills and became less insecure, she moved away from serialism. New style – “organic.” – “Less dissonant, more colorful, slightly impressionistic. Strong directional motion and balancing of gestures” – Nancy Bonds

7 Transitional Work 1975 – Breakfast Rhythms I and II Movement I – serial Movement II – (some time later) – “organic”

8 Mature Style Independent style. Difficult to label. Gives us the sense that it is building in intensity, static, or receding in intensity. She also uses certain gestures or compositional practices consistently, which give insight into her style as well as affect the intensity.

9 Snow Dreams (1983) Flute and guitar 9 minutes “There are many different images of snow, its forms and movements: light snow flakes, pockets of swirls of snow, rounded drifts, long white plains of blankets of snow, light and heavy snowfalls, etc. Many of these images can be found in the piece, if in fact, they need to be found at all. The listener will determine that choice.” – Joan Tower

10 Issues 1 – Articulation of form based on patterns of musical contrast 2 – Development of a “fate” motive reminiscent of Beethoven 3 – Patterns of density change

11 Density “Density may be seen as the quantitative aspect of texture – the number of concurrent events (the thickness of the fabric) as well as the degree of “compression” of events within a given intervallic space.” - Wallace Berry, Structural Functions in Music

12 Valentine Trills (1996) Solo flute Very short – 1.5 minutes.

13 Program Notes Written for Carol Wincenc, who says: “Valentine Trills is one of the most effective solo pieces I play. Audiences are awed by the continuous trilling, turning, spinning, and seemingly breathless quality in the piece – all which builds to a thrilling climax. Keep the pace “on the edge” right up to the last few trilling statements. The articulation needs to be brilliantly clear, and all the dynamic changes exaggerated from the surging fff to the hushed ppp at the end.”

14 Issues 1 – The use of trills to shape form 2 – Motivic development 3 – Density changes

15 Trills Used to emphasize pitches, produce momentum, sustain pitches, add color. It is significant when NO trill is used.

16 Motivic Development In this work, the triplet is used as a referential rhythm. We can see it used and then manipulated throughout the work.

17 Density A couple of perspectives: – # of notes within a given space: relatively dense. Density increases in the middle of the work, creating an arch form. – # of concurrent events changes at the end – two different voices! Polyphonic style. – This prepares a high-energy conclusion.

18 A Little Gift (2008) Flute and clarinet 2.5 minutes Free, creative response to “My Funny Valentine”

19 Issues 1 – Patterns of change in textural density. 2 – Large-scale sectional contrast in note durations. 3 – Metric change

20 Density Increased levels of textural diversity seek release in simplicity. Beginning and end are similar. Middle is more diverse and complex.

21 Note Lengths This aspect creates intensity and form. Slow-moving notes at the beginning and end. Faster-moving notes in the middle. This creates an arch form.

22 Metrical Change Very fast metric rhythm. Meter shifts occur consistently throughout the work, and the rate of change increases as the piece intensifies. Result – pattern of strong and weak beats is constantly in flux.

23 Conclusions Joan Tower has produced a significant body of work that deserves more attention than it receives. Certain elements can be traced throughout multiple works, showing a mature, independent style. Music builds intensity, is static, or recedes in intensity.

24 Conclusions, 2. Recognizing stylistic elements helps us, as performers, give more informed, convincing performances.


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