Three Studies for Baritone Saxophone and Electronics (2011)

Written for and dedicated to my friend Melissa Widzinski.
Premiered on April 30th, 2011 by Melissa Widzinski at Setnor Auditorium, Syracuse, NY

(Baritone Saxophone, Max/MSP 5)

When Melissa Widzinski asked me to write a piece for baritone saxophone and electronics I became fascinated by the possibility of exploring human generated sounds and timbres expanded, using the electronic component to expand these timbres beyond human capabilities. The resulting work breaks into three movements, each of which is connected by pitch content, but explores different timbral possibilities.

The first movement, Percussion, is based on the primarily non-pitched sounds that the saxophone can produce. This includes breath, slap tongue, and key clicks. When the electronics come in, they take these sounds and expand them beyond human means through granular synthesis and other digital effects. As the piece concludes we here the first pitched material of the piece, which outlines the pitch set [014]. The second movement, Passacaglia, builds off of the pitches first heard in movement I. I took the pitch set [014] and built a five note row based around the note “D”. [D,C,Bb,F,Db]. I then serialized the five-note row to create the harmonic material for the passacaglia.The final movement, Melody, begins with an electronic accompaniment. The drone background is made up of the same pitch material as the passacaglia, [Bb,C,D,Db,F]. The saxophone plays a semi-improvised melody while the drones constantly change dynamics and panning creating a piece that is simultaneously static and constantly moving.

Three Studies for Baritone Saxophone and Electronics was premiered on April 30th, 2011 in Setnor Auditorium at Syracuse University by Melissa Widzinski and Chris Cresswell.


Notes about the patch:
The patch included with this score is designed to run with Max/MSP. If you do not have this program installed on your computer, you can download a free version of Max/MSP runtime, that will allow you to run the patch, but not edit it. There are three cues in the patch, 1, 2, 3 that correspond with cues in the score. In order to activate the patch, press the large green button. If at any point you need to kill the patch, press the large red button. To active the cues, hit their respective button. Under normal circumstance you do not need to “stop” the cue, it will play itself out. Only use the red “kill” button if something has gone wrong.