Last week, I had the wonderful experience of hearing/performing my graphic notion piece, Blueprint. It was "written" for the Soundwave ((7)) Architecture performance at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. I was lucky enough to design the piece with the following amazing musicians in mind: Kris King on Contraforte, Michael Hernandez on Soprano Sax, and Kassey Plaha on Flute.
It's sometimes difficult to hear the contrabass flute in the last movement but the recording came out pretty well!
Live recording: Friday, August 5, 2016, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA. Meerenai Shim Quartet: Michael Hernandez, soprano sax - Kassey Plaha, flute - Meerenai Shim, contrabass flute - Kris King, contraforte
As you can see from the first panel above, the orientation to the score is different for each instrument. It continues the same way in the 2nd panel. In the 3rd, everyone but the contrabass/bass flute reads the piece the same way.
I had a few objectives/constraints for this piece based on the venue, instrumentation, and logistics/time:
1) In April I found out when/where my piece will be presented so I didn't have that much time to finish the piece or schedule time with my performers.
2) It was written to be performed inside Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, which is a very live space, so I decided that the piece should not require interlocking rhythms or tight ensemble work.
3) All of my performers have very busy summers so I needed the piece to work with minimal rehearsal time.
4) The piece had to work with the theme of Architecture. This was the biggest challenge. Since my piece was to be performed at Grace Cathedral, I chose instruments that reflect the pipe organs in the church. I also spent an afternoon sitting in the church and walking the outdoor labyrinth there. If you really think about it, all notated music is like a blueprint for music. I tried to take the blueprint idea and try to marry aspects of architectural blueprints with graphic notation.
5) The final constraint I gave myself was that the performers should be able to interpret the scores without much written instruction. My pet peeve is when the written instructions are longer than the score or if the score doesn't convey almost everything that the performer needs to perform the piece. This was tough in the last movement and I ended up writing instructions. 😕 I am convinced that I could have gotten away from written instructions if I used animated notation for the last movement.