November 10, 2005
I think I may have finally written the ending for “Turbine.” Part of me wonders if, in its current state, the ending is too long, but the entire piece is essentially a huge arch, so the ending needs to be pretty damn big. (The idea was AEJ’s, of course. When I told her that I didn’t know how to approach this 10-minute piece, but that I could probably write a flashy ending, she had the idea to think of the entire 10-minute piece as the last 10 minutes of a 60-minute piece. It’s ideas like that that consistently show her brilliance.)
So, the piece has an ending. At the moment, “Turbine” is a little shy of 9 minutes. The commission was for 10 minutes, but this piece is so intense and so loud and so fast (300+ measures at a constant m.m. 184) that I can’t think of any way to make it any longer without making it a lot longer. As it is, the low brass players are going to be bleeding (as are the ears of the players sitting directly in front of them).
And although it sounds absolutely nothing like it, the cell of an idea for the last bar came from recently hearing “Slonimsky’s Earbox” by John Adams. Whereas my “loud” pieces usually end with a great big tutti for the last several bars, the Adams piece spends a few bars spinning in the upper range, saving the low-register “bam” until the last beat. I wish I could have stolen some of the Adams colors from the piece (which, in his program note, he credits back to Stravinsky’s “Song of the Nightengale”), but baby steps (or, in this case, misdemeanor theft) are better than nothing.
There still may be one-too-many repetitions of the “flying tune” in the last half of the piece, so I need to look at that tomorrow, and spice up some of the tonality (Corigliano would be very disappointed by the amount of time it spends in the same key once it gets there), but by the end of the day tomorrow, I expect to be ready to start orchestrating! And doesn’t that sound like a fun & crazy Friday night?