Nice Notes - notes:
This CD is the first volume of my collected works for horn ensemble. “Nice Notes”, is the improvisation piece that ties the CD together. One version of “Nice Notes” starts the CD and there are shorter versions in between each full composition work on the recording.
Nice Notes is an improvisation piece that has written instructions:
Nice Notes . . .opus 141b
For an unspecified number of musicians sitting as far apart as possible, but within hearing distance of each other.
1) Play a long note mezzo-forte or softer. While sustaining the tone, think & decide to what note you want to move. Be thoughtful! After playing the long tone go to the tone you have decided upon. Play the second tone either softer, louder or the same dynamic as the first tone and shorter or longer. Try not to be influenced by the other musicians.
2) Next, take several deep breaths; calmly in and out. Then repeat step one.
3) The piece is over when you have played a nice variety of nice notes in a variety of dynamics.
4) Sit quietly and breath well . . . .take a break.
I used my old Wunderlich single F french horn that has the noisy valves, but the full sound which I like in the recording studio. The harsher tone of a Yamaha horn in the recording of Mars, is noticeable. If the low horn sound is a little tight, it is with the Yamaha and not the Durk or the Wunderlich horns.
For Nicer Notes V I decided before the start, that I was going to start in a sound cluster and move outwards. This sort of breaks the rules of the piece but , it is also exploring the possibilities. I like the cluster start much more than the NN9 where I chose to start on a major triad.
Mars, opus 10b was a nice surprise for me, this is quite an early work, yet I like how it develops, and how it fits with Nice Notes.
Trio, opus 36 can be hear on my CD “Beyond Favorites” but this version with the wind chime is SO much better than the previous recording, that I had to include this movement here.
Horn Quartet opus 39 is a good work developed well. The first movement of Quartet in Bb, opus 51 is not developed well, a fugue starts and almost immediately slows down and moves elsewhere but it comes back again in the third movement, and makes it a little better. The second movement with the multi-phonics is very expressive and shows off this age-old technique very well.
Seven Haiku, opus 75 is unique in my compositional out-put, as is the Variations on a Theme, opus 81 the more I hear each of these works, the more I like them. The Haiku I like for its expressiveness and the Variations, once I get past the weirdness, I think it should be a standard for horn quartet programs because it is easy and might give a concert program a reflective contrast to the current standards.
Sinfonia II, opus 111 is a set of three movements that explore patterns, I think they are quite effective especially the slow movement, which is quite pretty. The third movement could have better ensemble in the recording, but this is still a fine example of this work.
Chamber Symphony #7, opus 133 is originally scored for clarinet, horn, piano, bass & tape. I performed this with lots of stopped and muted horn to help represent the different instruments. This work explores the triad patterns of a couple of my I Ching Scales and is an exploration into sound block in contrasting tempi. Several instruments play together, but then other groups come in overlapping in different speeds. This comes off as sort of a theme and variations. A solid work that is quite hard for an ensemble to put together.
The CD needed one more work, and in December 2009 when I finalized this CD, I was recording my Waves and Particles CD. In the Waves and Particles work, I had to tune each note outside of standard equal temperament which is pain-staking at best. In response to this microscopic approach to music, I found great pleasure in a freer approach. The final work “Sinfonia V and TX1, opus 161” are simple but effect movements. The Sinfonia follows a simple pattern where the melodies expand in time and as spaces are created, harmony is added in an expanding pattern from one scale step to two, three, four and ending with fifths or five scale tone intervals. The short and weird “TX1” was created after a graphic design and realized for horn quartet.
￼Richard O. Burdick