Impressions

for flute and bassoon
2018

Program Notes

 

I. Dedicated to all romances that burned brightly in the imaginations of the intended, but were forgotten just as quickly as they were conceived. 

 

This Impression was constructed by using a musical cryptogram to turn the word “Romance” into 

pitches. While all notes used are from this collection of pitches, the opening statement, which is 

reiterated at the conclusion, is simply spelling the word.

 

II. In writing this Impression I sought to marry the form and rhythmic counterpoint of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Piano Partita II (Sinfonia - ¾ section) with the Lydian Diminished Scale of George Russell’s theory “The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization.” To establish pitch centers for the Lydian Diminished Scale to be based I used a musical cryptogram to turn the letters from the words “Fuck Rules” into pitches. 

 

I left the score devoid of prescriptive markings, very much in the same way Bach would have marked 

his scores, which leaves the performer with a wide array of expressive decisions to make. The most 

important decision of all may be: “Do I play this with the stylistic qualities of the late Baroque or of a 

1950’s jazz tune?”

 

III. This set of Impressions began with my friend and fellow bassoonist John Friedeman asking me to compose a duet for him and his wife Lisa Tharp, a friend and flutist, that was somewhat based on the musical score from the movie “The Ninth Gate” (2000). In studying this movie, I was reminded of a scene from one of my favorite films, “The Seventh Seal” (1957), in which a procession of flagellants are singing the hymn Dies Irae.

 

Because of the similarity in pitch material between the film score and the hymn (almost entirely the

Dorian and Aeolian Modes), it came to me that I could merge these two ideas into one. Using a musical 

cryptogram, I turned the titles of the films into pitch centers for each instrument to play: “The 

Seventh Seal” in the flute and “The Ninth Gate” in the bassoon. All of the material in this movement is 

whole or partial segments of the Dies Irae hymn played in these pitch centers, which will sometimes be 

congruent, and other times become polymodal. This melodic material is then driven by the rhythmic 

activity of the bassoon, which is loosely based on the rhythmic motives of “The Ninth Gate” film 

score. 

 

I encourage you to search for the three tritone pitch center relationships (666) that bring forth the 

opening of the Seal/Gate. 

 

IV. Using a musical cryptogram, the quotes in the parts have been turned into the notes below. The quotes say more than I ever could on the subject at hand. I encourage you to read the quotes for inspiration before you rehearse or perform. 

 

V. This Impression was created using the chord changes and form of the Wayne Shorter tune                 Speak No Evil. Though it can be played exactly as written, I kept the melodic material quite simple with the hope that the performers would embellish, improvise, and add to the music as they see fit. 

© 2018  Thomas Breadon, Jr.

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