Dancing With My Shadow

ostinato and 8+ players (open instrumentation) | Mount Allison New Music Ensemble | $25.00

Writing this work for the Mount Allison New Music Ensemble was a challenge mentally more than musically. Composing for a group to perform in the midst of a pandemic is almost unheard of; coming together musically will always be a pleasure for me, but I can't not acknowledge the loneliness I feel as I navigate these environments.

I decided to draw on those feelings of loneliness and thought about dancing alone. Specifically, the way that one's shadow follows them and mimics their moves is a really comforting image to me—in that way, I never dance alone. The different parts in this piece mimic each other through improvisation, dancing together to the rhythm of the ostinato.

About Instrumentation:

This work is written for open instrumentation: as long as the ostinato and eight parts are covered, the piece can be played. The parts can be played by any instruments, or even by the same instruments, but consideration should be taken for the range of the different parts (listed to the right in concert pitch). Octaves can be displaced if necessary for the ensemble, but there should still be distinction between low and high; the eight parts should not be playing within the exact same range if possible.

Performer Notes:

Ostinato: the ostinato is played by one or more players ideally on a melodic percussion instrument, piano, etc. They start on Eb4 and continue playing eighth notes at q =1 32 for the entirety of the piece,
ignoring any ensemble ritardando or fermata until the final measure of the piece, where the player(s) will start to slow down on their own time. Coming out of a fermata, the conductor should try to align with the ostinato. The ostinato responds dynamically to the sound of the ensemble; if the instruments are playing softly or with a warm timbre, the ostinato should also be soft, and so on.

Improvisation: in the ostinato part, the repeating eighth notes continue throughout the piece, but the pitch (Eb4) can be replaced by the other given pitches. For instance, from mm. 1 8-24, the player(s) can play Eb, F, Bb4, or D; from 25-31 , they can only play Eb4 or F, etc. In parts 1 -4 from mm. 77-1 01 , players are to improvise only on the notes given, unsynchronized and out of time. Black noteheads are to be played staccato and white noteheads can be held at the players' discretion. Similarly, mm. 1 21 -1 22 sees parts 1 -8 repeating Eb4 independently from each other, gradually softening to nothing.

Video: premiere performance by Mount Allison New Music Ensemble cond. Nicole Strum, April 2 2022, Brunton Auditorium, Mount Allison University.