Tone Studies

Tone Studies2019-03-19T00:14:38+00:00

Project Description

Alto Saxophone and Piano
2009
30 min.

Buy Score and Parts

 

Listen Now

Paul K. Nolan, alto saxophone
live recording (2012)

 

Preview Score

Movements

  1. Jordan
  2. Credo in unum Deum
  3. Watch the Night With Me (Part 1)
  4. Watch the Night With Me (Part 2)
  5. Wie Bist Du, Seele?
  6. Whale Story (O Sacred Head Now Wounded)

Commissioned by

Joseph and Janet Lulloff for their son Jordan

Program Note

Tone Studies is a set of six pieces which are for the most part slow and quiet. There is no really fast music in the whole piece, and only two fortissimo passages. I chose the title Tone Studies because each movement, and in fact each moment, offers a large number of choices about quality of sound, choices that will evolve with deepening study. The key to successful performance for both pianist and saxophonist is patience – patience with tempi, patience with fermatas, patient and careful listening into tones produced by each instrument and by the two together. It is very easy to play without deep listening. This music asks and requires that you listen deeply. When you do, a special settled heart energy arises through the performance.

Program note by David Maslanka

Note to the Performers

The title “Tone Studies” says very little about what is actually in the music. I chose it because each movement offers a large number of choices about quality of sound, choices that will continue to unfold over time. Each study is a small and passionate essay – a “short story” without words.

Four of the six studies make reference to chorale melodies:

  • No. 1: Christ, Unser Herr, zum Jordan kam 
    • Christ our Lord cam to the river Jordan
  • No. 2: Credo in unum Deum
    • We believe in one God
  • No. 5: Wie bist du, Seele
    • Soul, how have you become so unhappy?
  • No. 6: O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden
    • O Sacred Head Now Wounded

The original melodies can all be found in the 371 Four-Part Chorales by J.S. Bach.

The sixth study has the title “Whale Story”. I wrote a very brief story that should be read aloud as part of any performance. It can be read aloud by the soloist, or by someone other than the performers. The text is in both the score and the part.

–David Maslanka

Whale Story
(O Sacred Head Now Wounded)

by David Maslanka

 

Why should God have incarnated only in human form?
(a brief story about whales)

In the sixty million years or so the great whales have had, both on land and in the oceans, there have been numerous, and in fact innumerable, great beings among them.

In fact, it turns out now that all the great whales are either highly developed bodhisattvas or Buddhas.

And in fact it turns out that the Earth’s oceans are a Buddha Pure Land, and when you pass from this existence it is to be hoped for rebirth as a god or a great whale.

In fact it turns out that the Pure Land oceans of the Earth are a training ground for Buddhas across all space and time.

We are loved by the great whales, and they, serenely riding the waves of birth and death, will die for us so that we may come to our enlightenment.

The end.

Further Reading

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 48, Water Music

20 May 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we continue to look at more of David's music that uses water as a symbol or motif: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Sea Dreams: Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble, and UFO Dreams: Concerto for Euphonium and Wind Ensemble, Movement II - "The Water is Wide."

Maslanka Weekly: Best of the Web – No. 39, Dreams & Meditations

18 March 2019|0 Comments

Maslanka Weekly highlights excellent performances of David Maslanka’s music from around the web. This week, we feature three compositions that specifically mention "dreaming" or "meditation" in their title: A Child's Garden of Dreams, Movement I, Sea Dreams: Concerto for Two Horns and Wind Ensemble, Movement III, and Recitation Book, Movement I, "Broken Heart: Meditation on the chorale melody Der du bist drei in einigkeit."