Once I decided this would be the foundation of the piece I made…you guessed it, another list! This one had the instrumentation (piano, bass clarinet, flute, string quartet and percussion), a foundation for my text, a basic time limit and an idea of the overall vibe I wanted to capture. Sometimes I jot down orchestration ideas or time signatures, grooves, licks etc I might use in a piece. Parameters are often good for me. After I’ve finished this brainstorm of sorts, the actual writing begins and I tend to write very organically. Meaning, I let it come to me and I tend to “play around” with ideas until I like where they're headed. I generally don’t plan too much out ahead of time and I rarely use a key signature. I like letting it happen which must be the Jazz musician in me. 

Warning! Some technical stuff to follow.

This piece started with a drumset groove in a 6/4 time signature and the tempo is marked as “Trance Ballad”. (Check my instagram for a short video of the groove) I wasn’t even at a drumset when it came to me. I think I was at Starbucks with my laptop. (I can often get lost in my work at a coffee shop)

Intervals stacked in 4ths or “quartal harmony” came out right away first by the piano and later by the strings. A very “awkward” bass clarinet melody came next. I love the bass clarinet because its such a warm and versatile instrument. I won’t go into more detail as to not give TOO much away. Some slow moving string melodies, a change of groove and spaces for the text completes the basic structure of the piece. Now that the piece was written, I needed details of my text.I was at Colorado State University where I teach and was talking with one of my students about the project. He mentioned his girlfriend is a writer and actress and might be interested in the project. I was SO EXCITED. We went back and forth about the general vibe I wanted and I sent her a recording of the piece. She came back with some great material and we will record the samples here is a couple weeks. Think Casablanca meets the 1990s Seattle Grunge Scene!

The piece is completed and I’m looking forward to rehearsing and performing the work. I hope to see you there! Follow me on twitter, instagram and Facebook with the hashtag,  #NOCOELEMENTAL for more updates regarding my piece and the concert series. 

AuthorShilo Stroman