On Desert Rose

On Desert Rose, for guitar quartet

Date of composing June 2017

Genre program Romantic piece, fantasy, musical poem

Style Neo-Romantic, Romantic, Arabic ethnic

Duration [11′]

Level of difficulty intermediate

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini   all rights reserved

Description

In D, Lontano. Lento sostenuto.  A program composition inspired by Arabian desert, its nature and culture, and based on the poem composed specifically for this music by Natalia Pispini.

In spring 2017, I received the suggestion from classical guitarist César Mora to compose a piece for his ensemble Cairo Guitar Collective based in Cairo, Egypt. The proposition was to compose music which would reflect Arabic elements. I liked the idea and the new challenge of composing for the guitar. Some years ago I have visited the National Museum in Riyadh where I was impressed by the desert rose, the rock formation with amazing scheme of rose petals (the photo of this rock is used in the image above). So, I thought of the desert like metaphor of death, loneliness, indifference, while the rose could symbolize life, love, expectations… Thus, the fabula, then the poem and the music were created.

Poem

ON  DESERT  ROSE

… no one can see her beauty

after the wind ’s soft blowing

the desert rose’s come to life at night

 

her unexpected beauty

 

and in the morning  – a breathless rock again

one has to guard another spring

as month shaban ’ll be coming

in hazy gleams of sickle moon hilal

guard as it ‘ll breeze from south …

 

Program plot can be described as following:

It had happened in a lonely desert. There was a stone desert rose. Once by night, in spring, in month shaban, under the crescent moon hilal, after the south wind the stone desert rose had become an alive flower. It revealed its shining beauty but nobody could see it in the desert at night. The morning and the sunrise came, and the rose became a stone again.

Musical themes

The main musical themes are those of

desert (mm.1-16),

night and loneliness (mm. 16-19, 28-39),

crescent moon (mm. 50-53),

south wind (mm. 63-66),

desert rose crystal stone (mm. 20-26),

desert rose as a beautiful flower (mm. 112-127),

morning light of the sunrise (mm. 156-169).

Musical structure

The musical structure is a long Romantic program piece with 4 major sections:

Introduction (Lontano) It’s like the beginning of a fairy-tale. Refers to the place of the story, the Arabian desert.

Exposition (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso. Con moto etc., letters A-B) shows the initial situation (it is night in the desert, there is a stone rose, and the crescent moon is on the sky, and the south wind is blowing).

Middle Section (Meno mosso. Più mosso etc., letters C-D) describes how the stone rose became an alive flower, and show its beauty.

Final Section (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso, letters E-F-G) reminds about the desert, night and loneliness, and leads to the end of the story (the morning is coming with the sunrise, and the rose becomes a stone again).

Arabic influence

When composing this music, the particular elements of Arabic music were used.

Sometimes the texture is affected by the Arabic oud playing manners.

There are so called ‘arabesques’ ornamenting the melody.

Finally, the Arabic maqams are represented:

Hijaz (themes of desert, night and loneliness),

Saba (theme of the stone desert rose),

Bayati (theme of moon),

Huzam (themes of the wind and the rose flower).

These maqams are interpreted as elements of Romantic / Neo-Romantic music style.

Performance notes

All the tempo changes are suggested by the composer and can be revised or omitted by the musicians according to their taste and professional level. Since the music has a character of a fantasy / fairy story, it’s tempo rubato can be played in various ways.

View the score sample

Listen to MIDI excerpt on YouTube

 

…the only lily…

The only lily

This lily pond in a botanical garden in Kuala-Lumpur (Malaysia), probably, was not so bright in the season we had visited it: dry and dying plants, lots of duckweed, reflected grey-coated sky and unclean and humid air around… Yet the pond was very attractive. There were few water flowers left, pure beauty, whose pale white heads stayed obscured and almost unnoticed. Since I am an amateur in photography, I could not make any better photo, anyway it is one of my favorite image from our Malaysian collection. As for music, in my current improvisation I tried to follow that rather gloomy atmosphere and an indistinct beauty somewhere there. I chose a mysterious sound of a woodwinds ensemble, chromatic scale and partially parallel and synchronized motion of ’empty’ intervals.

Title …the only lily…

Genre improvisation (live playing on MIDI-keyboard)

Tasks woodwinds; chromatic scale, fourths / fifths / tritone intervals; expression of gloom and obscured beauty

Duration [3’00]

Date of creating May 15, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini

(Raw score is available on demand. Also you can order a music of similar style from Natalia)

Watch on YouTube

…that is why the white bird is hiding from people…

That is why the white bird is hiding from people

It was difficult to take a photo of this enigmatic white bird sitting quietly among the palm-tree leaves. But eventually we got it! We walked inside of Bahrain, in province, where there are plenty of whispering palm-trees and joyful birds. It was winter, the best season there…

The image had inspired me for new genre: an improvisation on MIDI-keyboard. Each would employ particular timbres, rhythms, melodic patterns etc. Here it is solo flute and Arabic maqam Bayati, interpreted in free, non-traditional way. Great exercise! Also great way to give the second birth to those numerous photos collected during our trips.

Title …that is why the white bird is hiding from people…

Genre improvisation (live playing on MIDI-keyboard)

Tasks flute; non-traditional approach to maqam Bayati; expression of anxious and shy character

Duration [2’06]

Date of creating April 30, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini; CC BY-NC license (for non-commercial use)

(Raw score is available on demand. Also you can order the music of similar style from Natalia)

Watch on YouTube

 

 

In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

InYellowWaves_title

 

  1. Larghetto e dondolante
  2. Allegretto energico

 Genre contrapuntal pieces

Date of composing October 2014, November 2016 – revised (I); March 2017 (II)

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’57”], [1’47”]

Level of difficulty intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2017 Natalia Pispini

Description

The idea of these pieces occurred after the trip through the Arabian desert. The highway crossed endless sand-dunes which took bizarre dark-yellow color due to the car’s UV-protected windows. The view of that sand ocean together with the huge sun disk hanging indifferently in the sky had left an unforgettable image. Thus ‘In Yellow Waves I’ was created. Later I composed the second piece, a ‘companion’ with similar conception of undulating melody but contrasting by tempo, rhythm and character.

In both compositions the contrapuntal polyphonic technique of canon (strict or free) was applied. The texture keeps canon fragments coming and disappearing, or it may change intervals. The drums (one player) perform rhythmic accompaniment. Bitonality (I) and bimodality (II) bring more chilly and dissonant sound. Another distinctive feature is the uneven meter 7/8 in the second piece.

The following instruments are used for the drums part:

I – acoustic bass drum, acoustic snare, hi-hat, 2 hanging toms and a floor tom, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, tambourine, triangle, cowbell.

II – acoustic bass drum, acoustic snare, hi-hat, 2 hanging toms and a floor tom, crash cymbal, ride cymbal, China cymbal, tambourine.

To learn the further details, to look at the score and the audio samples and to purchase the scores, please click on the links below.

In Yellow Waves I

In Yellow Waves II

In Yellow Waves I, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

From ‘In Yellow Waves, for Bb trumpet, alto saxophone and drums

Date of composing October 2014; November 2016 – revised

Genre contrapuntal piece

Style contemporary, jazz

Duration [1’57”]

Level of difficulty intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

In C/A, Larghetto e dondolante. The swaying motion of this piece is imitating moves along sand-dunes. Hard-swinging rhythm, triplets and syncopation refer to jazz style. The structure is simple ternary form ABA1 with a brief introduction. The texture is more sophisticated with a polyphonic strict canon which is ‘scattering’ by the end of the composition. Two canon voices – trumpet (leader) and saxophone (follower) – are in different tonalities (C and A), and the canon interval is the major third. The drums (one player) accompany the canon.

Performance notes

Combination of legato and glissando is the primary playing technique here for trumpet and saxophone players. The extended pitch range is applied. The percussion set includes triangle and cowbell. The triangle sound is of two qualities: 1) the normal sound, and 2) the quieter sound (out of the inner area of the instrument).

The drums notation:

InYellowWaves1DrumsNotation

 

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

Purchase the score

Learn about second piece in the same opus, In Yellow Waves II

Two Salon Pieces, for string quartet

Two Salon Pieces

  1. Expectation. A major. Tempo di Valse
  2. Determination. A minor. Tempo di Mazurka

 Genre pieces for string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) in character of waltz and mazurka dances

Date of composing October 2014; March 2016 – revised

Style Neo-Romantic

Duration [2’00”], [1’57”]

Level of difficulty beginner to intermediate; intermediate to advanced

Copyright © 2014-2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

Here is my first attempt to compose miniatures for string quartet, with classical approach to musical form and texture, and touches of Neo-Romantic emotionalism on the level of harmony and tonalities. Both pieces display an airy and capricious character; both are connected with the dance meters / rhythmic patterns. Maybe, these things have eventually brought me to the title ‘Salon Pieces’. Both are composed in a simple ternary musical form ABA1. The texture is basically homophonic (melody or ‘thickened’ melody vs. harmonic support) and enriched by flashes of ‘spicy’ chromatic notes. The bowing technique is specified if necessary.

To learn the details please click on the links below

Expectation

Determination

Expectation, for string quartet

 

 

 

From ‘Two Salon Pieces‘, for string quartet

Date of composing October 2014; March 2016 – revised

Genre a piece for string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello) in character of waltz

Style Neo-Romantic

Duration [2’00”]

Level of difficulty beginner to intermediate

Copyright © 2014-2016 Natalia Pispini

Description

In A major, Tempo di Valse. The composition displays pure lyrical character based on waltz meter ¾ and, at the same time, develops in changeable motion which corresponds to the emotion of ‘expectation’. The contrasting middle section (C minor) of the ternary form ABA1 brings for a while more dramatic sounds.

Performance notes

Although the composition holds the dance rhythm, the manner of playing is a piacere, so the musicians are free to alternate slightly the tempo. (The phrases with wider melody supported by arpeggio chords are the most suitable for slowing down.) The important part of expressiveness in this piece is the legato technique applied to the variations in phrasing.

Look at the score sample

Listen to the midi rendering

Purchase the score and parts on Etsy

Purchase the score on Sheetmusicplus