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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2012 Gregory Weaver.


In almost record time, I have come to release the second draft of my puzzle/mystery piece, “Gumshoes”!  If you’ll recall from my post regarding the first draft, I’m writing to the above picture, which depicts Jen, Mog, and me as sleuths.

Let’s check out what I thought I would do last week and compare it to what I did do:

  1. I’d like the initial right-hand melody with the non-piano support to be longer before there’s a transition into the viola-centric section.  I enjoyed writing the support and want to use it to embellish the main melody more and in different ways early on.  Not done.  I decided not to do this after writing the very last parts of this draft.  Instead of continuing in that spot, I kept the transition, which I liked, and then chose to create a whole new section of embellishment on the tail end of the piece, which will lead to whole new idea due to the new direction.
  2. At a little past :20, when the left hand rises and then falls again, I might add a counterline to set up the held dominant b9 chord.  Done.  In fact, this was the first thing that I worked on when starting this draft.  It lead to an interesting predicament at :24.  Instead of continuing the left hand, at that point I break it off until the full chord is played (see this excerpt: Gumshoes_v2_Piano-Sample).  The original idea was to have a left hand throughout that kept the same rhythm as the right, but it didn’t quite sound right no matter what lines I used.  Then, I thought to sustain a lower note under the A# in measure 5 of the excerpt.  At first I liked it, but the problem was one of depth.  I think that the chord is more striking because there aren’t any notes around its range held for longer than a beat from the beginning of the tune, so to me it made that note sound like it was the lowest thus far.

It’s funny how, while composing, one can get fixed on just one tiiiny spot in terms of time.  1:11 marks the start of the new stuff, and 1:15-1:26 – eleven seconds out of the minute and a half of “new” material (quoted because there’s a lot of repetition) – took me the longest to work out.  Right before that, at 1:10, I have the piano drop out, and I enjoyed it missing for a few bars.  After those few bars, though, it seemed like there was a huge void in the sound, so I had to fit it in somehow, and in doing so, I had to make a believable transition from the “low notes of doom” (complications in the mystery) to the high notes (the more organized side of the mystery, which one hears in the very beginning).  I think that the harmonic and rhythmic disarray of the other instruments made it even harder to figure out what to put there that would make sense.  In the end, I think that the reentrance and transition sounds pretty convincing, though, even though I’m not a total fan of the piano at 1:19-1:22.  Keeping that part was one of those “mehhhh but I have to move on” moments, and I’m glad I took that route because I’m not totally against it anymore.

The end, as I had mentioned, is clearly a movement into new territory.  I think that in a previous post I had mentioned my recent submersion into an ocean of Spanish-tinged music, particularly works by Vince Mendoza and Geoffrey Keezer, and this is a result of that recent re-obsession (I have been a huge fan of Maria Schneider and Chick Corea for years).  After changing the rhythm left hand of the piano at 1:11 slightly, the tune immediately had a new feel (and all I did was split one quarter note!).  Itching to make my own flamenco piece for months, I added the shaker and another rhythmic line (I don’t know what I’m supposed to call that, but I’ll find out before talking about it more in the next draft).

Originally, the whole flute solo wasn’t included; the tune had jumped from 1:41 to 2:22.  Thinking that I had lost my vision of having the characters of the picture claim their own voices in the tune, I decided to let Mog/the flute flutter about some more before going back into the melody.  That was certainly my favorite part to write–I’m hoping that you’ll think it’s pretty hip, too.

As always, I long for your questions, comments, and suggestions!  Let me know what you think, and I’ll be back soonish with another draft.

Until then…!

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