Amabile Strings

The music of composer
Sarah E. Stanton


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Sarah began to hear melodies in her mind very early in her childhood, but it wasn’t until later in life—after a life and career in engineering physics and medicine—that she began to write it down…

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Timpani Composition

February 10, 2014

I had not been particularly interested in percussion, other than using these instruments to accentuate a well-established theme of music, until I heard what the Timpani can really do–not only in terms of rhythms, but also with tones and the ability of these kettle drums to influence the emotions of each listener.

Photo by Stuart Heath (CC BY 2.0)

Photo by Stuart Heath (CC BY 2.0)

Being one who likes challenges, I decided to embark in the writing of a composition that features this instrument within an orchestra of strings, woodwinds and brass instruments.

Quickly I realized this is not as easy as one would think, since each of the nine kettle drums has its own range of notes, and the master performer needs time to tune up or down each drum when indicated… Hmmm, try doing this when you are playing 8th or 16th notes. A composer can write anything, but the questions we all have in the back of our minds are “Is my music playable?” or “Is it too simple to be featured in the music?”

There is a balance between composing something that is worthy of the listeners’ ears and challenging and intriguing enough for the performer to devote his or her time and energy to, yet is also playable on the instrument we are writing for. My challenge is then achieving a composition that is not only virtuoso for the musician performing the music, but also allow him or her the flexibility to add a special touch of individual expression to this composition.

So I am working on such a composition and hope that it does all I have expressed here… I will let you know how it is going in the next few weeks.