piano (1999) 8', four movements
published by Sweet Child Music
- commissioned by Kathy Bina
In 1996-1997, I was invited to teach Music Theory at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. One of my students, Kathy Bina, asked me to be the advisor for her Master's thesis project, which was a workbook of projects for piano teachers who wish to incorporate instruction in composition into their piano lessons for their intermediate students. After she finished her thesis, Kathy also commissioned me to write a suite of short pieces for her degree recital.
As I thought about what to write for Kathy, I decided that it would be appropriate (and fun) to base my pieces on some of the ideas presented in her workbook. Because my pieces exemplify some of the concepts and techniques presented in Kathy's book, I titled them "Exemplificatory Etudes." Like most etudes, each of these focuses on a single musical characteristic; in this instance, various contemporary compositional techniques and styles. These attributes are described in the title of each etude, which are alliterative as a reflection of Kathy's penchant for using alliteration throughout her workbook.
In the first three Etudes, I incorporate snippets of musical examples that Kathy had written for her book as the motivic material for my new pieces. The style of the Etudes is thus eclectic, reflecting the variety of techniques that are incorporated as well as the synthesis of my compositional development of Kathy's motivic material. The "Twelve-Tone Toccata" is a dramatic introductory fanfare. The "Pandiatonic Passacaglia" is based on a simple chord progression that is repeated and extended in a hypnotic Minimalist style. "Ready, Set, Scherzo!" develops a three-note motif in both melodic and harmonic fashions, and utilizes much changing meter. The "Quartal/Quintal Quodlibet" is a reharmonization of the famous Brahms "Waltz;" however, now the chords are stacked in fourths and fifths, and the meter has likewise been changed to quadruple.