Low Haze Fantasia

ensemble clarinet, marimba and vibraphone
duration ~7:03
listen on soundcloud
score PDF, 153KB
performance history 05/02/1994 (undergraduate senior recital) by Barbara Benedett and Wesley Morton
date completed 1993
era undergraduate

background

This piece is roughly in the form AABA, but each A section contains two statements of the theme. The first section consists of the opening theme played in canon, with the follower being a half-note duration behind the leader, followed by the theme in slight melodic variation and a change to the percussion accompaniment. There is a mini-development section between the first and second sections. In the second section, which is half as long as the first, there is more variation and the melody is taken over by the percussion. The B section is a development section for solo clarinet first and then (basically) solo marimba, until the recapitulation.

The melody wanders around a tonal center, sounding very modal. It relies on a triplet feel and alternating sustained notes to impart a sense of motion that comes in waves. The entire harmonic structure underscores this ambiguity, this lack of clear commitment to key and meter. (There are plenty of odd meters thrown in to further muddy the waters.) It’s a moody piece.

But it’s also a hard piece. There’s a lot of air in it. It should’ve been for two percussionsts – the switches alone are too hard for most players to successfully execute. (One might say that it’s evident the percussion parts were written by a pianist.) But beyond technical aspects, it’s a piece built on long, linear musical lines which are aesthetically difficult.