Composition B.S. I
My first composition is inspired by Chelsea Bridge, A Flower and The Far East Suite. The starting point was the aural atmosphere of The Far Eats Suite with its exotic soundscapes. I wanted to establish the idea of a harmonic ostinato, just like in Chelsea Bridge and A Flower and make a tonal color the central idea of the piece.
The melodic minor color of the Ebmmaj7 chord is the defining sound. The form is AABA. The melody is agile and expressive, starting out with a long sustained major 7, then moving downwards quickly within one octave; this is a tribute to melodies out of The Far East Suite such as Isfahan (which also has a descending arpeggio as the central motive) or Agra.
My intention was that the melody of “A” always stays within the tonal material of the Eb minor melodic scale, so that theoretically the theme could be played without any other chord progressions. However, when the first 4-bar phrase is repeated, the bass starts moving – as an element of surprise - on beat 3 of bar 5 (thus during the phrase), coming back to Eb on beat 2 of bar 7. This way, the tonal material is reinterpreted in its function because the bass note is changing; the melody leaves the harmonic ostinato, moves through harmonically functional chords, touching a new tonic of Bb7, and going back “home” to Ebmmaj7.
The 12-bar “A” section is structured in a sentence. The 4-bar phrase is repeated twice; at the third time, the phrase is modified. Also, in the final 4 bars, the harmony moves away from Ebmmaj7, through a cadence of IIm7-V7s, ending on dominant that leads back to the top. This structural form of the “A” section is borrowed from A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing.
The “B” section (8 bars) has a new character. It consists of one 2-bar motive, which features a certain chord progression: A major seventh chord followed by a dominant a half-tone lower, then again a major chord a half-tone lower, and so on. The major chord could be seen as a substitute for a IIm7b5; that means, we have descending minor II-V7s, starting on Bbmaj7 (or Em7b5).
The 2-bar motive stays the same, sequenced through the chord changes. It is repeated twice, then the final 2 bars modulate back to “A” through the same dominant as in the end of “A”. The last bars of “A” and of “B” are identical, also in the melody.
When I composed this piece, I imagined that it could be arranged for a set-up similar to the Ellington Orchestra playing The Far East Suite, so that the instrumentation emphasizes the effects of the music. Already the use of two or three different brass and wood wind instruments would add to the character. However, the piece can also come to life just with one horn and harmonic accompaniment.