writing more guitar sonatas

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Jeremiah Lawson
Posts: 1736
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 2:35 am
Location: Seattle

writing more guitar sonatas

Post by Jeremiah Lawson » Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:28 am

I wrote several last year, all single-movement works--a little octatonic homage sonata to Bogdanovic; a giant 10:30 homage to Stevie Wonder in E flat major sonata; and a 7:30 E major sonata based on material from Joseph Lamb's American Beauty rag.

This year I've finished a 24 minute long four-movement Guitar Sonata on themes by Thomas Commuck. Commuck was one of the first Native Americans to publish a musical work using Western notation and he got some help from Thomas Hastings to publish a shape note hymnal. I heard of Commuck through one of my musical contacts and got the idea to take my favorite melodies from Commuck's Indian Melodies and compose a large multi-movement work from that. So I have.

The Commuck sonata has been fun to write and it has a lot of contrapuntal writing in it, ,both imitative counterpoint (the finale is a 7:30 prelude and fugue) and quodlibet technique (I've been on a bit of a Charles Ives kick in the last ten years). After writing two dozen fugues for solo guitar I find I keep being drawn to contrapuntal techniques but there's more to counterpoint than just fugues. I finally wrote a canonic menuet movement in the style of Haydn thanks to one of Commuck's tunes.

I'm not sure if I'm necessarily going to be in a position to post videos of the movements for a while, but I do have the work finished.

musicbyandy
Posts: 752
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:53 pm

Re: writing more guitar sonatas

Post by musicbyandy » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:32 am

Jeremiah Lawson wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:28 am
I wrote several last year, all single-movement works--a little octatonic homage sonata to Bogdanovic; a giant 10:30 homage to Stevie Wonder in E flat major sonata; and a 7:30 E major sonata based on material from Joseph Lamb's American Beauty rag.

This year I've finished a 24 minute long four-movement Guitar Sonata on themes by Thomas Commuck. Commuck was one of the first Native Americans to publish a musical work using Western notation and he got some help from Thomas Hastings to publish a shape note hymnal. I heard of Commuck through one of my musical contacts and got the idea to take my favorite melodies from Commuck's Indian Melodies and compose a large multi-movement work from that. So I have.

The Commuck sonata has been fun to write and it has a lot of contrapuntal writing in it, ,both imitative counterpoint (the finale is a 7:30 prelude and fugue) and quodlibet technique (I've been on a bit of a Charles Ives kick in the last ten years). After writing two dozen fugues for solo guitar I find I keep being drawn to contrapuntal techniques but there's more to counterpoint than just fugues. I finally wrote a canonic menuet movement in the style of Haydn thanks to one of Commuck's tunes.

I'm not sure if I'm necessarily going to be in a position to post videos of the movements for a while, but I do have the work finished.
Cool.

Sandaun
Posts: 271
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:45 am
Location: Tauranga, New Zealand

Re: writing more guitar sonatas

Post by Sandaun » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:22 am

I always like seeing new material brought into the classical repertoire, from sources that had previously been untapped. This is the first time I've heard of Thomas Commuck. Is his hymnal in the public domain?
"I have supposed that he who buys a Method means to learn it." - Ferdinand Sor, Method for Guitar

Jeremiah Lawson
Posts: 1736
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2007 2:35 am
Location: Seattle

Re: writing more guitar sonatas

Post by Jeremiah Lawson » Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:05 am

Yes, Thomas Commuck's Indian Melodies was published in the 1860s. Commuck wrote the melodies but the melodies were harmonized in shape-note style by Thomas Hastings (a moderately well-known name in American hymnody). Four-part rather than the older three-part approach, for those who are familiar with shape note scoring conventions.

You should be able to find Indian Melodies as a collection either at archive.org or imslp.org. Yale is working on a project to realize some performances and presentations of Commuck's music that I heard about a couple of years ago. The melody Shoshonee has appeared in a number of concert works in the last century and a half. Like any hymnal with about a hundred hymns in it a bunch of them don't stick with me, but about half of them have fun tunes and there's a couple dozen in the set that I think are great tunes.

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