BRUCE HOBSON - Mountain Paths, etc.
by Bruce Hobson
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Bruce Hobson writes about his music:
More than half a century of studying music has convinced me that rhythm is the most important element in both understanding and creating a musical composition. In fact, the element of pitch is a type of rhythm: a continuous pulsation of air pressure that occurs a particular number of times each second, or more simply, sound waves. Indeed, many aspects of music and our responses to it occur in pulsations or wave-like shapes over time, quickly or slowly, at both even and uneven time intervals.

Many walks in the woods of southern Vermont have been the major source of inspiration for shaping the musical elements that form the sonic peaks and valleys of Mountain Paths. From my former home in Arlington and my present home in Manchester, the woods and mountains have always been a short distance away. Close encounters with bear, deer, birds, and once with a moose have made these walks an exciting part of my life in Vermont. Of course, the wildest creatures in the forest may be the humans—walking during hunting season seems too exciting for me.

Deep Forest—Dark Dance and Ice Storm Light Show are musical portrayals of some of the wide variety of sensations that I have experienced during these mountain walks. The visual aspect of each title is intended to direct the listener to the emotional tenor and mood of the music.

Mountain Paths was commissioned by the Sage City Symphony of North Bennington, Vermont and had its world premier on May 28, 2000.

My String Quartet, completed in 2004, is based on a single rhythmic and melodic wave-like shape whose crests and troughs are the inspiration for both the large and small scale musical expression of the piece. The musical shape of the theme and its motivic components relate to the seven sections, which are separated and emphasized by pauses. Rhythms, melodic contours, and expressive trajectories of the theme are freely employed to form the work from the smallest motive through phrases and sections to the entire piece.

All chords and melodies in my music are those which I find the most beautiful and exciting. As in my other works, the style of the Quartet is highly chromatic. Chords are composed to serve the expressive situation where they occur: more consonant at points of relaxation and more dissonant at points of tension and high intensity. Melodic shapes are more disjunct, fragmented, and agitated at the crests of expressive waves and more conjunct, continuous, and tranquil in the troughs of musical low points.

Contrasts was originally scored for piano and string quartet in the 1960s. The work was recently revised and reorchestrated for chamber strings to provide the strings with a more equal range and power in the dialogue with the piano. The contrasts in the piece grow naturally from the differences between the piano and strings: percussive attack versus the ability to sustain as well as the difference in timbres. While the piano and strings are capable of playing similar types of passages, the resulting sound is never the same.

The harmonic and melodic elements of the composition are constantly juxtaposing diatonic and chromatic properties. Part I begins with the strings repeating a dissonant chromatic chord as the piano plays a more diatonic melody; after a transitional cello melody the strings take up the diatonic melody while the piano repeats another dissonant chromatic chord. The rhythms and articulations of the chords are short with rests in between--longer legato notes predominate in the opening melodies. The various elements are combined to form a readily comprehensible expressive style that has a firm footing in late romantic music.

The introduction of Part I in moderate tempo presents most of the melodic and harmonic material that is varied in the subsequent fast and lively section. Several episodes explore new textures, polyrhythms, and instrumental combinations before presenting the principal theme in its most intense and lyrical variation. A restatement of the opening of the fast section leads to a ferocious climactic close.

In the slower Part II, the melodies gradually become more chromatic as they start to supplement the perfect fourths and fifths of Part I with thirds, sixths, and minor seconds. Part II is made up of three sections, the second of which repeats the material of the first section with many melodic contours inverted. Part II Finale begins at track 12 on this disc with a new chromatic melody that grows out of triplet repeated chords from Part I. A string melody from earlier in Part II is played by the piano, and with the triplet repeated chords added to the mix, all the elements are traded back and forth in a driving rhythmic dialogue that continues to the last chord.

The title, Morphopoiesis, is a biological term whose definition is an appropriate metaphor for the expressive style of the composition: “The formation of an organic structure from a limited number of subunits.” Definitions of the components of the word make it seem an even more suitable title—morpho comes from the Greek morphe, meaning form; poiesis is defined in English as “creative production, especially of art.”

Through a technique similar to the creation of the sections of my String Quartet, the three parts of Morphopoiesis are organically formed from the simple rhythmic pattern of the opening horn melody: Part I–short,long; Part II–short, short, long; and Part III–short, short, short, long.

The dramatic five bar introduction of Part I corresponds to an augmentation of the “short” of Part I and drives the music forward to the tempo change in bar six which is the beginning of the “long” section of Part I. Parts II and III are formed with similar organically expressive repetitions and expansions of their respective rhythmic patterns.

Bruce Hobson, who lives in Manchester, Vermont, was born in 1943 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he studied piano and trumpet at the Hartt School of Music in the 1950s. During studies at Columbia University and the New England Conservatory of Music, his composition teachers included Jacuqes-Louis Monod, Otto Luening, Chou Wen Chung, and Malcolm Peyton.

Mr. Hobson’s compositions have been characterized by Fanfare Magazine as “expressive, superbly crafted…taut, powerful music.” The American Record Guide has described his music as “tightly structured and fine sounding. Hobson has a strong sense of the nature of chromatic harmony, and his ‘extensions’ of tonality really ‘sound’.”

Performances of his works have been given by the Capella Cracoviensis in Poland, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic, the I.S.C.M., the Sage City Symphony in Bennington, Vermont, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Guild of Composers in New York City.

Mr. Hobson has been a founding member and officer of the Guild of Composers, a performing organization in New York, and the Association for the Promotion of New Music, a music publisher. His recorded works and scores are available on line from www.equinoxmusic.com.
Bruce Hobson writes about his music:
More than half a century of studying music has convinced me that rhythm is the most important element in both understanding and creating a musical composition. In fact, the element of pitch is a type of rhythm: a continuous pulsation of air pressure that occurs a particular number of times each second, or more simply, sound waves. Indeed, many aspects of music and our responses to it occur in pulsations or wave-like shapes over time, quickly or slowly, at both even and uneven time intervals.

Many walks in the woods of southern Vermont have been the major source of inspiration for shaping the musical elements that form the sonic peaks and valleys of Mountain Paths. From my former home in Arlington and my present home in Manchester, the woods and mountains have always been a short distance away. Close encounters with bear, deer, birds, and once with a moose have made these walks an exciting part of my... View more

Track Listing

Track Title Add track to cartClick to play sample
1. Mountain Paths: Deep Forest--Dark Dance  (8:44) more info
$2.14
2. Mountain Paths: Ice Storm Light Show  (7:02) more info
$2.14
3. String Quartet: Parts I through VII  (22:42) more info
$5.38
4. Contrasts: Part I  (10:00) more info
$2.38
5. Contrasts: Part II and Part II Finale  (9:31) more info
$2.38
6. Morhopoiesis: Part I  (3:35) more info
$1.38
7. Morhopoiesis: Part II  (3:19) more info
$1.38
8. Morhopoiesis: Part III  (4:59) more info
$1.38

More Info

Release Year
2007
Label
Equinox Music
Sounds Like
contemporary foreground art music
Produced By
Bruce Hobson (all sessions), Stanislaw Galwonski, Joseph Firszt (Mountain Paths), Vladislav Kvapil, Vít Muzík (String Quartet, Contrasts), Annagret Lange, Vienna Modern Masters Recordings (Morphopoiesis)
Recorded At
Cracow Philharmonic Hall, Cracow, Poland (Mountain Paths); Reduta Hall, Olomouc, Czech Republic (String Quartet, Contrasts, Morphopoiesis)
Engineered By
Jerzy Dlugosz (Mountain Paths), Richard Mlynar, Zdenek Slavotínek (String Quartet, Contrasts), Frantisek Poul, Vaclav Frkal (Morphopoiesis)
Mixed By
Mixed to stereo by engineers at sessions
Mastered By
Bruce Hobson, Richard Mlynar (Contrasts)
Genre
, ,
Website
www.equinoxmusic.com
2ndary Website
www.mfo.cz/uvodEN.html
Band Members / Musicians
The Capella Cracoviensis Orchestra, Joseph Firszt, conductor (Mountain Paths); The Gamavilla String Quartet: Vít Muzík, violin, Vladislav Kvapil, violin, Gabriel Pavlík, viola, Marián Pavlík, cello (String Quartet); Moravian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Lucie Kaucká, piano solo, Petr Sumník, conductor (Contrasts); Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Toshiyuki Shimada, conductor (Morphopoiesis)
Location
Manchester Center, VT, USA

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