I finished a movement of the Soprano Sax concerto today. This movement, which I think will be the second movement, is called “Felt.” Here’s my plan for the concerto, as it stands now…

Each movement takes its title from a primary material of the saxophone — metal, wood (the reed), and felt. The scoring for each movement reflects that material. “Metal,” for example, is scored for brass, metal percussion, flutes, piano, harp, the sax section, and the soloist. “Wood” is scored for wood percussion (or percussion that can be struck with wooden mallets), woodwinds (except flutes), piano, harp, the sax section, and the soloist. “Felt” is scored for percussion that can be played with felt mallets (especially timpani and marimba), winds (flutes, clarinets, oboe, bassoon, contrabassoon), piano, the sax section, and the soloist. The final movement will use every instrument. All four movements feature the sax section, which will allow the soloist — presumably the sax teacher at the school — to play with his or her studio.

“Felt” is all about the keys of the saxophone — the things you can do without changing keys (pitch bending), as well as the different fingerings you can use to play the same pitch (alternate fingerings). The movement starts with low-register repeated pitches with alternate fingerings, works its way to flashy virtuosic runs, and ends with the flutes, clarinets, and the sax section playing rhythmic key clicks. There’s also a bunch of “slap tone” thrown in for good, freaky measure. It’s even more random than I’m describing.

“Wood,” which is also nearly done but not fully orchestrated, is simply a song. (AEJ’s idea with these movements was that “Felt” could be about “here’s what a sax can do when it comes to weird sounds,” and “Wood” could be about “here’s what a sax can do that’s nice and melodic.”)

I’m pretty excited about these two movements. Not quite sure what to do with “Metal” yet. I’d written about two minutes of it, but have decided to throw it away. It was one of those cases where I had an idea that was sort of okay, and it was going to happen 3/4 of the way through the movement. The problem was that the idea wasn’t all that great to begin with, and I couldn’t think of anything for the first 3/4 of the movement that wasn’t completely awful cheese. So, it’s back to square one on that movement, and I think that’s best.

If you’re curious to see a few pages of the short score, here’s a link to the PDF. The tempo is quarter=168. It’s speedy. And Finale tells me there are 11,464 notes — in the span of 5-and-a-half minutes. I think it’s time to write something slow.


Corey Francis says


Excited about this soprano piece. Having played the soprano parts to "Redline Tango" (CBDNA Nashville, Georgia State) and "Strange Humors," I really enjoy your works. Let me know when it is ready. I would love to work on it.

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