Lines and Shapes


Fugue and Distraction for Orchestra

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This ‘fugue and distraction’ infuses an old musical form with new vigor — Lines and Shapes is a combination of fugal counterpoint with the musical style of today’s Colombian cumbia.

The practice of pairing strict contrapuntal writing with free-form popular dance tunes is an old one. It was the basic pattern for much seventeenth-century keyboard music, such as J. S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor. Many composers since Bach’s time have adapted the ‘passacaglia and fugue’ to other genres and ensembles, such as the orchestra. My use of Latin American rhythms and melodic styles, however, might beg the question of how this piece came to be.

In March of 2016, I was honored to welcome Colombian trombonists Giovanni Scarpetta and Sebasti├ín Cifuentes to Cedar Falls, Iowa, as part of my graduate recital in music composition. I wrote for them a brass quintet in the style of their country’s best-known dance, the cumbia. That same year, I had the opportunity to write for the University of Iowa’s Jazz Band One. I was studying Latin jazz with Bob Washut, at the time, so my piece for the Jazz Band One took the form of a Latin modal fugue. A year later, when reviewing scores for competition, I realized how well the fugue and cumbia worked together. So I combined them in an orchestral arrangement with a title that betokens the way each part was conceived.

Performing Forces: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in Bb, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, 2 Horns in F, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, Maraca, Tambor, Strings
Duration: about 3 minutes, 30 seconds


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Full Score, Parts