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Three Irreverent Vignettes

For Tenor Sax and Looper (2022)

Three Irreverent Vignettes is comprised of three scenes, or musical vignettes, that are connected through motive, harmony, and elemental illusion. As a composer, I love writing music that refuses to genuflect before the prevailing hegemony just for the sake of doing so. This piece is no different. Though there may be shared characteristics between the hegemony and this piece, they aren’t meant to signify devotion as Three Irreverent Vignettes carries the listener through an episodic journey defined by its own merits and logic.

The first vignette, “like breathing, freely” establishes the motivic and harmonic character of the entire piece, presented in a way that feigns improvisation through a fixed structure. This vignette opens with a loud stomp from the performer from which tone generates. This becomes a recurring motif throughout the piece as a spring board introducing the vignettes and various motives as well as a tether rooting the music to the body and the earth, similar to how breathing itself is a grounding exercise. Additionally, this vignette is punctuated with space and air sounds meant to further illustrate the aesthetic of breathing.

The second vignette, “focused, like a march” is a bit of a departure from the first vignette though the structural march material itself is birthed through the development of the rhythm of the stomp motif as presented in the first vignette. The Boss RC-30 Looper is called into action for the first time here as the performer layers a series of heterophonic lines that ultimately, through the use of the looper, create a composite rhythm and harmony over which the sax screams in conflicted catharsis.

The third and final vignette, “like water, fluid” closes the piece with an incessant stream of notes that, like the previous vignette, build a composite texture through use of the RC-30 Looper. The supplementary motivic material of this section calls upon motives established in previous vignettes but filtered through a new lens. The main material takes the grace note idea nearly omnipresent in the piece to a degree of ornamentation that establishes a warm baroque aesthetic. I have, to some degree, found the music of Couperin to be warm, inviting, and fleeting and I sought to recapture that sensation in this vignette.

Performed by Lily Kaufman during the 2022 Yarn/Wire International Institute, June 11 - 26, 2022

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