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Download: Four Parables for Six Trumpets by Eddie Lewis
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The following is Mr. Lewis' text describing this composition.
After several years of a waning interest in writing serious music, Four Parables represents something of a sweet return. For reasons I won’t divulge here, I had become extremely discouraged in my efforts as a composer of serious music. Part of that, I believe, had something to do with timing. I had just completed my best and most major work to date. It was a brass quintet piece in seven movements based on The Lord’s Prayer. Coming down from that high point in my writing career to face a string of discouraging problems, I just lost the urge to write.
During the years that followed, my compositional output slowed from an average of twenty-five works per year to less than ten (with some years being much less than ten). And of the compositions I was writing in those few years after The Lord’s Prayer was completed, most of them were novelties. I didn’t see the point in taking it all so seriously anymore and wanted to compose music that was fun to write and even more fun to perform.
Four Parables has been an effort to jump back on the horse that bucked me. It began with me putting my proverbial “toe in the water” (pun intended) when I wrote the original Four Parables as an unaccompanied trumpet work. When I gave a copy of that original version of the piece as a gift to Marie Speziale, she asked me something like, “don’t you ever write anything easy?” Ha! So, my intention was to expand the solo trumpet piece to six trumpets, thereby redistributing the technical passages, making it less difficult, and offer it to her later as an upgrade to the earlier gift.
Unfortunately, it took me over two years to do this. In that time, Marie retired from Rice and I haven’t seen her since. But still, it was Marie who inspired me to write the trumpet ensemble version of the Four Parables, so it is right that I dedicate it to her.
About the Music
The first movement is a bit dreamy. Rhythmically it is soft. Music in nine-eight always sounds soft to me, but I used scale runs to smooth things out even more. So it has a flow-like quality that feels very comfortable, not hurried, not anxious. The big ensemble sections introduce the almost jazz-like harmonic structure.
The second movement is a very sustonuto melody over muted, dissonant “bell tones” and a flugelhorn bass. The use of leaping grace notes connected to sixteenth/dotted eighth rhythms gives the melody an elated yet almost eerie feel. In many ways, it is the most difficult of the four movements to perform. Balance must be perfect and the melody must be expressive yet not overly dramatic.
One of my compositional trademarks is that I introduce the rhythms of Latin music into my classical works. The third movement of Four Parables subtly borrows its rhythmic structure from a style that the Latin musicians often refer to as “African.” With this six trumpet version of the piece, I was able to do more with that.
The last movement is the wild one. I recorded it very fast, but it does not need to be at such breakneck tempos. Compositionally the movement is quite simple. I utilize what I like to call, “compositional reverb” which had a very nice effect with a lot of the very fast double-tongue stuff. Over all, the last movement sounds like a final exclamation. I see in my mind people raising their hands in enthusiastic praise and demons frantically fleeing the scene.
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