Monday, March 07, 2005

"Split Complimentaries" - Blast

Blast is a musical that basically uses a drum and bugle corps instrumentation (plus electronics) and in which the performers do drill-like movements onstage. They perform a really wide range of music, from an arrangement of Ravel's bolero to music from "Newsies."

This song features electronics, but also has plenty of brass and percussion. I'm not sure what to call the compositional technique, but the composer takes the same motive and, as instruments are added, displaces it throughout the measure. At first, it's just a rhythm in the percussion. Later, the brass enter the texture and melodic motives are used. Steve Reich uses this technique - it's how he built "Clapping Music," "Music for Pieces of Wood," and "Nagoya Marimbas."

The result is a pretty smooth, complex texture. The contour of the melodic motives, if it has any significant leaps or contrasts, are blurred because so many copies of the motives are happening at once. Therefore, if one trumpet is playing the part of the melody that leaps up, there are probably several others that are playing lower parts, and so the whole melody becomes this medium sound.

I really like music like this. Something about its bubbly sound, where not many significant things happen, makes me feel very content, but at the same time interested. The texture that develops is very stable, with a strong tonal center. It's fun to try and pick out the original motive once there are many instruments playing at once.

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