Elements in four episodes (septets: flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, violin, viola, cello)
by Lorraine Milne (2000)
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Elements in Four Episodes was composed in response to an article written by Matthew Shlomowitz on the Bennelong Ensemble (Australian Music Centre UPDATE No. 118 October-November 2000). The Chamber ensemble instrumentation is a direct result of the Bennelong line-up. However, I take Percy Grainger's "elastic scoring" approach to orchestration - parts can be re-orchestrated depending on availability of instruments, for example the soprano saxophone part could be played on a clarinet.
The first and fourth Episodes uses the full line-up of strings, wind and piano whereas Episodes 2 and 3 feature wind and strings respectively.
Previously I had been "playing" with the octatonic mode in writing a series of piano solos (Kaleidoscope and The Whole Suite). My fascination with this mode carried over into the harmonic/melodic language of ELEMENTS. Episodes 1, 2 and 4 employ octatonic scales whereas Episode 3 is based mainly on the dorian mode.
The accompanying CD recording is a sequenced version of Elements in Four Episodes and should be heard as a rough guide only. The bass clarinet is played on the clarinet sound and the string parts are played using a full section sample.
Episodes 1, 2 and 4 are based on half tone/whole tone (octatonic) scales whereas Episode 3 is modal. The large number of accidentals is due to the nature of the octatonic scale. A key signature indicates the tonal centre at that moment. Often the natural plus altered note occurs in the same bar - particularly in the piano part between LH and RH or between instruments. Elements has no "program" as such. It is driven by the nature of the octatonic scale with its "limited transposition".
Instrumentation: Episode 1 & 4: Flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano ; Episode 2: flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, piano ; Episode 3: violin, viola, cello, piano.
Duration: 13 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Advanced amateur/professional.
Contents note: Episode 1: Core elements -- Episode 2: Wind elements -- Episode 3: String elements -- Episode 4: Retrospective elements.
Episodes may be played as separate pieces.
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