NEW TRACKS@FBAS 2018 – Selection

Taylor Joshua Rankin

“Soft Rushes”

In an effort to gauge my piece to the strengths of the Abchordis ensemble, I attempted to hybridize the baroque sensibilities that the ensemble is so versed in performing with my own contemporary voice and orchestrational techniques. For this, I delved into the music of Baroque composers such as Alessandro Stradella, Antonio Vivaldi, Marin Marais, and Alessandro Scarlatti, particularly the Qual prodigio e ch’io miri?: Sinfonia, of Stradella, the Bassoon Concerto in G Major, by Vivaldi, the Pièces a Une Viole du Premier Livre, by Marais, and La Giuditta, by Scarlatti.

The piece begins with faint and delayed rhythmic entrances of an A major triad in the strings on Sul Pont, as the initial motive of the piece. The delayed entrances are then juxtaposed with unison pulsing in the strings. As the rhythm presses forward with fragmented starts and stops, the harmonic content of the piece begins to build. 16 measures in, the harpsichord enters with an upward arpeggiated chord repeated twice, thus setting up the conflicting idea to the rhythmic bed underneath and initiating what will be the overall internal conflict of the piece. Other instruments begin to take up this arpeggiated idea, playing off one another when suddenly the bassoon extends the arpeggiated motive, bringing the piece into a new and dramatically Baroque world.

The piece begins to relax and cool down as the broken A major triad from the beginning of the piece begins to serve as soft interruptions between the agitated Baroque lines of the bassoon. This dialogue continues until the conflicting idea of the upward arpeggiation, performed now as colorful iterations bouncing off each instrument, serve to bring the piece into new harmonic territory. A short conflict ensues and then the initial A major triad is played on the strings, this time as long melodic lines without vibrato, giving a droning and almost Renaissance choir feel to the middle of the piece.

The music builds again and slightly fades, giving room for the bassoon to take the upward arpeggiated motive and turn it into a long and lyrical melody, with the strings initial rhythmic idea as soft, interrupting, harmonic, accompaniment, underneath. The piece ends with one last colorful iteration of the upward motive as the instruments bounce off one another, higher and higher until nothing else.

-Taylor Joshua Rankin (July, 2018)