Week 31 – Twenty Seven

This piece is different than what we’ve done before.

As I mentioned in Week 28, some of the performances from Norwegian groups at the Portland Jazz Festival inspired me to explore different avenues and directions with my compositions for Duo Chronicles.  This meant finding both a different sonic palette to write for as well as different compositional forms and note choices.

This particular piece is heavily inspired by the Christian Wallumrod Ensemble, which played a set of through-composed music at the festival — not the usual melody, solo, melody forms that we’re so used to hearing in jazz.  My piece, “Twenty Seven,” much like a classical piece, is fully through-composed and is the first of the Duo Chronicles pieces to not include any improvisation, besides phrasing and inflections.

Sometimes, when writing a piece and trying to explore new sounds, it’s useful to have some sort of ‘rule’ that makes you break out of your normal box as a composer.  When I studied with Dick Oatts in New York, he was big on this idea.  In fact, on his record South Paw, I believe nearly every piece was originally written as an exercise with some sort of rule in mind.  For this piece, I decided to try to justify every note in the piece by being either a 3rd or a 9th away from the previous note or another note in the chord.  This, combined with the fact that it was week 27 of the project when I started writing it, lead to the title (9 x 3 = 27).

Towards the end of the piece, I abandoned the rule briefly — I decided that it was better to break the rule and have the piece sound the way that I wanted rather than stick to the rule and compromise the sound — after all, the goal of the rule was to inspire a new sound, which I had achieved at the beginning of the piece.

I know that Clay and I both have some new compositions coming up soon that explore different sounds and instruments (note the new melodica Clay’s playing in “Twenty Seven”).  We’re excited to share these new ideas with you.

Remember, you can always get our videos from iTunes in podcast format (HD quality, too):

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