In my recent work, I’ve been playing with building large structures out of small, repetitive melodic fragments. On the surface, this doesn’t seem to be anything new—spinning out compositions from motives is, in fact, standard compositional practice! As for the repetition, it would seem the Minimalists (Reich, Glass, among others) have repetition down.
I am finding some fresh life in this approach, and it has a few things to distinguish itself: first, these small motives are not developed, or maybe only slightly. They survive their interactions with other music elements almost completely unchanged. What interest there is must come from those interactions and from the “ear worm-y” nature of each small motive as it weaves its way through the texture. Second, I’m looking for more motion and development, in contrast to the static nature of most minimalist-inspired approaches.
I think this is fairly successful in the first movement of this suite. Several little motives are introduced, in different registers and with different timbres. These play off against each other, and provide a setting and contrast for a jaunty trumpet tune.
The second movement features lush harmonies and a pedal solo early on.
The last movement is a toccata very much in the tradition of the French Romantic composers, using sonorities and melodic elements derived from carillon ringing.
This piece can be performed on different styles of pipe organs, but requires a French-style reed chorus of 16’ 8’ and 4’ on at least one division.