Elliott Grabill

composer | educator

Category: Strings

Written on the Train

I feel a certain closeness to the music when I’m putting pencil to paper.  I carry around my sketches wherever I go, and use highlighters and colored pencils to cross out passages I don’t like and write new ones over it.

When I witnessed composers like Michael Hersch and Kirk Nurock present performers with handwritten scores, I also noticed a collaborative rapport.  It was almost like they were delivering something very personalized to a good friend.

Normally I use Finale to engrave my final product– especially if I don’t know the musicians’ preferences.  But once in a while I’ll find a musician like Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, who embraces handwritten music.

About half of this piece was written on a train from New Orleans to Baltimore.  I also wrote part of Lake Pontchartrain on this ride.

http://www.peter-sheppard-skaerved.com/2017/10/elliott-grabil/

 

Lake Pontchartrain

for string sextet (two violins, two violas, two cellos)

Water is emotion, and every body of water I visit makes me feel a different way.  Lake Pontchartrain is a shallow estuary in Louisiana just wide enough that one cannot see the other side.  To get to New Orleans, one must travel across its waters on a freeway or train elevated just above the surface.  On a cloudy, rainy day, the gray waters of Lake Pontchartrain evokes feelings of sadness, serenity, intimacy, and longing.  The piece begins and ends like the lake’s gentle, unending waves: instruments play long single notes at different times, creating a chord progression that sways between dissonant clusters and tonal harmonies.  The quiet middle sections are inspired by nature: wind rustling, birds chirping, and stillness.  It features sparse triadic gestures, microtones, and cellos bowing on the bridge.

© 2018 Elliott Grabill

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑