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slow music

Sometimes slow music seems like a cop out. Fifty measures of music can last one minute or five minutes depending on the tempo. In order to keep interest going in fast music, the composer has to either develop the material more or develop more material. In one of my five movement works, the third movement is one page (free notation) and lasts about five minutes. The last movement is ten pages and at ideal tempo lasts about four minutes.

On the other hand, fast music and slow music are different animals to tackle. It definitely depends on the kind of piece i'm writing, but from a conceptual standpoint, i take as much time if not more composing slow music over fast music. Finding the right pacing and the right emotional space for my slow music is always a struggle and something I have to play in my head over and over again. Fast music can be more intuitive and easier to hear and whip out. I don't *quite* remember, but in the above example it took me a few days to conceive the third movement, and another few days to put it in its final musical form. The last movement, on the other hand, took me one day to write. (The fourth movement, somewhere in between those two, took me a couple of months to write because I kept on writing, hating it, and starting over.)

Granted, i'm leaving out vital statistics to that scenario. The last movement of the piece is essentially a mish-mash of the first four movements, so I didn't have to write new material, I just had to find a way to make the various ideas of the old material work together. And i was on a deadline to finish the piece, so i pretty much had to get it done that day.

Even so, in the past couple of years I've written more slow music than fast music. Part of it is surely because of Kurt's influence, and maybe part of it is that I'm starting to identify with slow music more. But i'm also sure that a part of it might come from the misconception that slow music is "easier" to write than fast music, and sometimes I forget that's not true. It makes me glad that the percussion ensemble piece i'm writing and the woodwind quintet that i'm conceiving are works i'd put in the "fast" category.


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March 2017