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"Bitterroot Soundscape" for harp and chamber ensemble: Score and analysis

Julie Anne Rabens, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Bitterroot Soundscape expresses a bittersweet sound world in which the line between tension and resolution is blurred. It explores the beauties of sound that can exist without clear resolution or a sense of finality. While it is not overtly programmatic, without a dramatic storyline or a depiction of a specific picture, it does intend to convey in musical terms an aspect of the human experience that is symbolized in the title. ^ There is mostly traditional usage of instruments with extended techniques used for touches of color. Special techniques used include a variety of glissandi, harmonics, pitch bends, pizzicato, and various mufflings. The use of octatonic pitch material provides a preponderance of semitones which opens up the pitch pallet to a greater variety of color while limiting the scale from twelve to eight pitches. Since there are seven pedals on the harp, this scale allows all but one pedal to remain fixed during a given passage. ^ Bitterroot Soundscape is rooted in Western European classical traditions. The form being symmetrical and containing many sonata-allegro and concerto features has a foundation in Neoclassicism. Color, texture, and the avoidance of shocking extremes find their roots in Impressionism. The surface features in this work reveal eclectic influences ranging from Impressionism and Neoclassicism to Minimalism and textural composition. ^ Bitterroot Soundscape strives toward a natural expression of musical ideas avoiding synthetic, rigorous organization. An intuitive compositional process rooted in symmetry forms a natural expression of sound. The ideals of Impressionism and the use of symmetry both have strong roots in nature and the emphasis here is on natural process resulting in a meaningful representation of the experience of being human. ^

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Recommended Citation

Rabens, Julie Anne, ""Bitterroot Soundscape" for harp and chamber ensemble: Score and analysis" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3045530.