The Germinal Idea

So the first thing I did after Monday's meeting was plan out how the next few months would look. The final product will need to be delivered ultimately by March 1, 2010. I plan to be in Springfield, MO, on February 12, so I set that as the deadline for the score to be finished, giving me Thanksgiving week, December, January, and half of February to write a five-minute, 14-performer work.

Still working backwards, I knew that orchestration would take a great deal of time, so I planned January 1 to February 12 as orchestration time. This leaves me December and this week to come up with a piano score. And before I write a piano score, I have to come up with a germinal idea, which was my assignment for myself for Thanksgiving.

The germinal idea, as noted by people who research such things, is the starting idea from which a piece is composed. In the case of Pipe Dreams, it was a rhythmic pattern written in alternating bars of 6/8 and 3/4. For Notes of Daybreak it was the poetry of Walt Whitman. For The Four Saxophones of the Apocalypse, it was…well, the apocalypse (well, the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation).

So basically, I knew that over thanksgiving week, in which I already have scheduled 2 days in Norman, an eight-hour drive back home to Poplar Bluff Missouri, spending time with family and friends, correcting a paper, adding dynamics and editing another piece of music, an eight-hour drive back to Norman with a stop in Springfield Missouri, and getting ready for classes next week, I would have to figure out the basic kernel upon which this new work would be built.


However, as luck would have it, as I hit the city limits of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, I had an idea, and after spending time at my parents' piano, I believe I have a theme for this new work. I will post it as soon as I write it down.


One of the hardest events in a project is actually starting (another is ending, but we'll cover that later…at the end), and this is no different. So I suppose I should start at the beginning of this entire thing.

About a month and a half ago I received an email from Dr. Marc Jensen, chair of the Oklahoma Composers Association, notifying me of the OCA's newly-formed Composer Residency program. I was immediately interested in the program, and submitted a copy of my freshly-composed Pipe Dreams for consideration. I received an email from Dr. Jensen a week ago informing me that I had been chosen to work with the Norman High School percussion ensemble.

The following Monday I met with Josh Knight, the director, where we discussed the layout of the new work, the instrumentation, the overall feel of the work, and most importantly, the deadline.

So this is how things started. And this is the beginning of the story of a composition not-yet-named.

Kyle Vanderburg