Flexible Parts (2008)
Instrumentation: viola, piano
Movements: I. Small Piece of the Story II. Proximity III. Local Dance IV. Elements V. Air VI. Viola Song VII. Further Small Piece of the Story
Duration: 10 minutes
Flexible Parts is a set of seven short movements made from what I would describe as rather simple, plain, unassuming musical fragments. These fragments are flexible in that they each can and do make guest appearances in many of the seven movements, even though each movement has a distinctly different musical character and emotional tenor. (The last movement in particular contains within a very short span at least five of these fragments.) It might be interesting to note that these tunes, or fragments, often appear to me more or less intact as part of the compositional process. Composing the whole context—the fleshed-out movements in which these tunes sound—is a much more labor-intensive part of the process, and one that involves a lot more paper, pencil, eraser. A simple tune can resonate in ways that are straightforward and light as well as in ways that complicated and dark, and perhaps Flexible Parts is a way of trying to acknowledge that paradox. This piece has in it moments of high contrast, taking sudden and dramatic turns. This contrast may be most readily apparent in the fact that the piano, large instrument that it is, and the viola are often used in a very minimal way, though with outbursts that acknowledge the full range and power of the instruments. This piece is dedicated to violist Melia Watras.
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