|ensemble||SATB saxophone quartet|
|performance history||02/20/2015 by ASM at the National Opera Center (ASM Does Not Get Saxy);
03/31/2015 by ASM at ShapeShifter Lab (New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones)
fraud! continues a series of pieces that began as unplanned sketches. This series explores what happens when you stop trying to make every piece the next masterwork. Rather than grind ideas through an agonizing process, you take more chances with endings and transitions, acquiesce to stay in one key (or, hell, on one chord), and even treat it more like a pop song than a chamber work. But the gist is that this is no way for a “real” composer to work. Try to break your own rules and habits. That’s this.- ASM program notes, 02/20/2015
That is probably a good synopsis of the entire series, though this piece is hopefully the last entry in the series. But better than that, this piece has almost every trick I’ve ever used. There is:
- simple meter against compound meter
- sudden jazz changes (letter B)
- transition by alarm-sounding chord (2 measure before letter C)
- displacing accents (letter C)
- trading themes in outer voices (letter F)
- superimposing two unrelated parts despite clashing (letter G)
- round-robining into a transition chord (3 measures before letter H)
- a contrasting bridge (letter H)
- changing the harmony underneath the theme’s return (letter I)
This is not necessarily a bad thing, some would say these are standard compositional tools that work. The bridge, for instance, is interesting in that only one note changes at a time, while the resolution stays just out of reach. So despite what the original program notes say, perhaps it is a way for a composer to work. But it’s definitely indicative of my acquiescence to this series, rather than some greater statement for this ensemble.
As with “aurora” and writing for choral groups, I hadn’t written for a saxophone quartet in twenty years. Apparently, SATB writing is something that I enjoy. The recording was actually from the encore performance (03/31/2005) rather than the “Does Not Get Saxy” show, but the personnel is the same: Jeff Hudgins, Alex Hamlin, Ed Rosenberg, and Josh Sinton.