G. Bradley Bodine

Composing imaginative music for the best musicians.

 

Notes

A Cross on Wood - Desert Songs I - Desert Songs II - Concerto for Marimba and Band - Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra - Rendezvous Overture - Rhapsodia - Rhapsody

A Cross on Wood:

"A Cross on Wood" was commissioned by the American marimbist, Drew Lang, and was completed in August, 1989. The composition makes extensive use of contemporary marimba techniques which include displaced octaves, fast scale passages, and polyrhythms. The key scheme follows the pattern D-Ab-B-F-D. When this pattern is placed on a circle of fiths chart, it forms a cross, hence the title of the piece. A Cross on Wood was premiered by Drew Lang at the Arizona Percussive Arts Society State Convention in Phoenix on March 23, 1990.

Desert Songs I:

Remarks Delivered by the Composer at the World Premiere - June 10, 2001 - Durango, Colorado.

I would like to thank Jeffry Jahn, John Pennington, Gary Cook, the Animas Music Festival and the Arizona Repertory Singers for commissioning "Desert Songs." Last June, Jeffry Jahn sent me three beautiful poems, "Spade-foot Toad," "Rattlesnake," and "Buzzard," from Byrd Baylor's Desert Voices collection. It was my job to translate Byrd Baylor's imagery into music.
The first poem, "Spade-foot Toad," begins with the line, "Far down in the earth, quiet as a stone, I wait for rain." In setting this text, I wanted the audience to feel a sense of waiting. I used incessant repetition to achieve this sense of waiting at the beginning of the work. After the waiting period is over, the music modulates to a new key at the lines, "... and take me from my hiding place." This change of key represents the toad emerging from his/her hole in the ground.

Portions of the second poem, "Rattlesnake," portray the sun beating down on the rocks. I used bowed crotales to convey this imagery. Crotales are small cymbals that sound like tuned bells. In this piece, I have asked one of the percussionists to use a cello bow to play the crotales, giving the cymbals a raspy flute type of sound. The bowed crotales also help create a mysterious atmosphere that is alluded to at the beginning of the poem ("I move so flat against the earth that I know all its mysteries").

The third poem, "Buzzard," ends with the text "High over the world, I watch." The buzzard is watching for death. Death means life for the bird. I used the bright bell sounds of the glockenspiel to portray life while the choir sings the words, "I watch." Each time the choir stops singing, the chime sounds a single death toll. Life and death are juxtaposed to one another. At the end of "Desert Songs," the death toll is barely audible while the choir quietly sings "I watch." Death is life for the buzzard!

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Desert Songs II:

"Desert Songs II is the second part of the Desert Songs Triptyche. The work was commissioned in memory of Dr. John Creange by the Arizona Repertory Singers, Jeffry Jahn, Music Director; Gary and Kirsten Cook; and the Animas Music Festival, John Pennington, Artistic Director. The text for this second part of the the Desert Songs Triptyche contains excerpts of the poems"Cactus Wren", "Lizard" and "Coyote", by Byrd Baylor.

"Desert Songs II" begins with "Cactus Wren" movement. The movement starts out with the marimba and Philippino buzzing sticks hammering out a 16th-note rhythmic pattern. The composer listened to several cactus wren calls on the internet and wrote this pattern down directly from one of the recordings. Motives from this pattern are heard in various forms throughout the movement. The climax of the movement is on the text "I like thorns in all directions."

The second movement, "Lizard", begins with a straightforward recitative-style choral proclamation of the story of the lizard's early life. The text for the next part of the poem is: "The rougher the country the faster I run." The composer mellismatic runs in all four voice parts to depict this text. These mellismatic runs are accompanied by a fast constantly rising vibraphone part along with a drum kit of tom toms, bongos, guiro, cajon, high-hat, suspended cymbal, timpano and agogo bells. When the lizard finally rests, the gentle gamelan-inspired sounds of marimba, vibraphone and glockenspiel are heard.

The final movement of "Desert Songs II" is called "Coyote" and is dedicated to the memory of the composer's dog, "Rowdy" who had passed away a short time before the composer set the text. The coyote is known as a "trickster" because they sometimes trick their prey. One coyote will jump up in the air and howl, causing the prey to pay attention to them, while the pack is sneaking up behind them. The composer based his technique on this practice by introducing a "trickster" motive that - designed to divert the attention of the listener when it is heard. "Desert Songs II" ends with high voices singing from across the hill, "We're here, alive in the moonlight."

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Concerto for Marimba and Band:

Concerto for Marimba and Band is an re-orchestration of G. Bradley Bodine's Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra. Commissioned by Drew Lang, this re-orchestration was completed in 2002. Mr. Lang premiered the work in 2003 with the New Mexico State University Wind Ensemble under the direction of Ken Van Winkle.

The opening movement of the three-movement composition is cast in double exposition form with a cadenza before the recapitulation. After a short introduction, the marimbist plays the first and second themes in succession. The trumpet and flute pick up the next statement of the first theme. The marimbist answers by completing the statement of the theme begun by the trumpet and flute. The dialogue between the band and the soloist continues throughout the statement of the second theme as a codetta ends the exposition. The dialogue between the band and soloist continues throughout the development section. Eventually, the marimbist breaks into thirty-second note runs against a background of motives from the first theme. The development section continues with the development of both themes. Eventually, the band takes over with a powerful crescendo. The marimba cadenza leads to the recapitulation.

The second movement is cast in a rondo song form: a-b-a (inversion)-b (inversion)-c-c (retrograde)-b (retrograde-inversion)-a. The marimbist plays rolled chords throughout the movement. The orchestration of this movement is particularly subtle and colorful.

The finale movement of this concerto is cast in a sonata-rondo form: a - b - a - development - b - a - coda. The development section of this final movement develops materials from both of the preceding movements and thus creates a cyclic form for the work. For the climax of the movement, the main theme of the preceding movement is presented in the form of African-based rhythmic structures.

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Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra:

Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra was comissioned by the American marimbist, Drew Lang. Mr. Lang premiered the work at the prestigious International Festival Institute at Round Top under the direction of Edwin Outwater.

The opening movement of the three-movement composition is cast in double exposition form with a cadenza before the recapitulation. After a short introduction, the marimbist plays the first and second themes in succession. The trumpet and flute pick up the next statement of the first theme. The marimbist answers by completing the statement of the theme begun by the trumpet and flute. The dialogue between the orchestra and the soloist continues throughout the statement of the second theme as a codetta ends the exposition. The dialogue between orchestra and soloist continues throughout the development section. Eventually, the virtuoso marimbist breaks into thirty-second note runs against a background of motives from the first theme. The development section continues with the kaleidoscopic development of both themes. Eventually, the orchestra takes over with a powerful crescendo. The marimba cadenza leads to the recapitulation.

The second movement is cast in a rondo song form: a-b-a (inversion)-b (inversion)-c-c (retrograde)-b (retrograde-inversion)-a. The marimbist plays rolled chords throughout the movement. The orchestration of this movement is particularly subtle and colorful.

The finale movement of this concerto is cast in a sonata-rondo form: a - b - a - development - b - a - coda. The development section of this final movement develops materials from both of the preceding movements and thus creates a cyclic form for the work. For the climax of the movement, the main theme of the preceding movement is presented in the form of African-based rhythmic structures.

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Rendezvous Overture:

"Rendezvous Overture" was commissioned in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of J.J. Pearce High School and was specifically designed to be performed at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. "Rendezvous Overture" opens with a joyful fanfare followed by a heroic theme that functions as the main theme of the piece. The ensuing codetta, with its relentless major triads, progressive-rock chord progressions and asymmetrical rhythms, is reminiscent of the composer's earlier career as a rock guitarist. Following the codetta, a lighter, more playful section emerges with the appearance of a new theme. The new theme is eventually taken up by the brass, leading to a climactic cadence. The subsequent passage features the clarinet section performing sixteenth note runs throughout. This passage, with its rapid modulations and syncopated rhythms, was inspired by the composer's interest in modern jazz music. Eventually, the sixteenth note runs lead back to the heroic theme presented earlier in the piece, rounding off the work as a whole.

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Rhapsodia for flute and marimba:

"Rhapsodia" was commmissioned by the Blackburn/Lang Duo and was premiered by the duo on March 12, 1999 at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

"Rhapsodia" is a Greek word which means "epic poem." The composer chose this Greek form of the word because he wanted the audience to understand that the composition is a poem with many different stanzas. The composition is a poem in the sense that there are rhyming schemes, questions and answers, and contrasting stanzas. Each of the themes represents a new stanza in the poem. New themes are often developed as they unfold. The opening melody is a witty tune that could have come from Pan's flute. Elements of poetry, including rhyme, can be heard in this opening melody.

The fast tempo and motivic construction of the following section are its most obvious characteristics. Fast double tonguing permeates the flautists part during this portion of the piece. After this fast section, a cantibile melody in adagio tempo takes over in the flute with a tremolo counterpoint in the marimba part. A heterophonic (both instruments play the same melody) texture permeates the next stanza of the poem with a complex and free rhythmic structure. Dr. Bodine attributes this use of heterophony to his study of Japanese court music. This heterophonic melody transitions into a very sad and lonely melody in the flute, with a chordal accompaniment played by the marimba.

Eventually, sadness and loneliness are replaced by hope. In the ensuing flute cadenza, the composer emphasizes a struggle between the emotions of hope and sadness. The marimba enters and begins a dialogue. A joyful celtic dance in dorian mode ensues and the flute and marimba unite in a high spirited rhythmic feast. At this point in the piece, the flute and marimba play a rhythmic canon at the interval of a major seventh, each spelling out the letters "I LUV U" in morse code.

A meteric modulation leads to the next section of the piece which combines elements of the joyful celtic theme with the witty opening theme. This leads to a marimba cadenza which continues the development of these themes. The flute adds ebullience to the final cadences of the marimba cadenza, leading to a coda with new music based on fast jazz improvisations and punctuated by allusions to the joyful celtic theme.

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Rhapsody for horn and percussion:

Rhapsody for Horn and Percussion was commissioned by the International Horn Society for Catherine Roche-Wallace (Horn) and Jeffrey Prosperie (Percussion). The work was premiered in 2005 at the 37th International Horn Symposium at the University of Alabama.

Rhapsody for Horn and Percussion begins with a 33-measure crescendo - a simple bass drum and cymbal back beat pattern that forms a rhythmic mantra against which the rhythmic activity of the opening horn melody is set. As the rhythmic tension increases, the beat suddenly slips into a cut-time swing pattern, while the horn performs a jazz-inspired melody.

The swinging melody continues until a metric modulation suddenly sweeps the musicians into a very tight, fast rhythmic flurry. Following this rhythmic passage, the horn player receives a break in the form of a snare drum solo. The ensuing horn cadenza is, in turn, followed by a solo marimba passage that is based upon motives found in the horn cadenza.

The marimba solo is followed by a joyful fanfare accompanied by the chimes. This fanfare continues to develop as the percussionist performs a simple ostinato on the marimba, providing a harmonic accompaniment to the horn. A new soft jazz inspired melody is introduced as the music changes to asymmetrical meters while the marimba continues its accompanimental role.

The horn fanfare is heard again as another metric modulation on the horn morphs into a snare drum playing repeated 16th notes. The snare drum continues playing straight16th notes throughout this final section, while motives heard earlier in the work are developed and mixed together in an improvisatory style. The work ends with the fanfare motive being played high and brassy.

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© 2009 G. Bradley Bodine