I’ve been conversing about sketching and process on Twitter over the last day or so (various threads and such here), and then when organizing my notebook today came across these sketches from Part I of One Day as a Thousand Years. This is often how I sketch overall form, building the skeleton of a large piece of music before filling in the muscles and flesh in detail. I typically start with some particular small-scale idea (motivic/harmonic, a melody, rhythmic idea…), zoom out to large-scale to structure how to use it, and then go back in to build up the sections layer by layer. It provides a roadmap of sorts, so I don’t get lost or sidetracked in my own materials.
Sometimes I do sub-sketches to zoom in to closer but not surface-level detail on a particular section. This was a sketch of what I wanted for the introductory “Ordinary Time” section…
…and for the Epiphany section…
Very different ways of outlining the materials for those two sections––the former more texture- and time-oriented, the latter cast in terms of melodic structure. It’s fitting for the kind of material each is focused on.
Incidentally, the opening of Part I is “Ordinary Time II,” and the same material, which returns reharmonized to close Part I and open Part II, is “Ordinary Time I.” I have to admit I amused myself with this. It works out this way because Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year, and the span of time between Pentecost and Advent is the second span of ordinary time in the year.
Advent–Nativity–Epiphany–Ordinary time 1–Lent–Easter–Pentecost–Ordinary time 2
Since this work is intended to be performably cyclical, such that a performance can begin with either major feast season, the Ordinary Time movements are used as both introductions and closings for those major sections. So the Advent-Nativity-Epiphany arc of Part I is introduced by the previous liturgical year’s second span of ordinary time, which closes with the Feast of Christ the King (the chants of which are used in the electronics). The first span of ordinary time, counting from Advent, occurs between Epiphany and Lent, but it is the second time in the piece that we find the Ordinary Time material (although the harmony is altered… perhaps I’ll outline some of the harmonic development that governs the relationship between the two how it relates to the other materials in the overall work in a later post).