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Emily DeNucci – Three Canons for Two Flutes

Thank you to all the young composers who submitted their work to the score call.  Whether you received feedback via email or via this blog, it was great to get to know your work.  You all deserve to be proud of your work and I hope you will keep composing, no matter where life takes you.

We conclude this iteration of the Young Composer Score call with Emily DeNucci’s “Three Canons for Two Flutes”.  Please download the score and be sure to read the program notes.

This set of canons is remarkable and charming.  The counterpoint in them is quite advanced for a young composer (see the program note about when the first movement was written).  Yet, there is still an artistic purpose in each movement and note choice.

One aspect that draws the listener in is the shift of texture, rhythm, and climactic form.  For example, the first movement begins with long durations, and slowly accelerates rhythmically and deepens texturally.  However, it is not a straight incline; there are mood shifts and nuances, as well as temporary dips, brought about by dynamics, triplet rhythms, register changes, and other devices.

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The second movement continues another good habit of the composer: the use of dynamics, articulations,  and ornaments.  These are key elements to developing a piece, and developing oneself as a composer.

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The artistic vision of the composer is clear:

  1. Create a large, broad, and deep character (the giant) and a small, quick, frenetic character (the scherzo).
  2. Use these characters to construct a story of separateness and togetherness.
  3. Through this narrative of unity, we see a thesis, antithesis, and synthesis model, which makes much sense logically without being mathematical.
  4. As a “meta-structure”, the use of  canons with two instruments alludes to the two characters in play.  The switching of parts and registers between the two instruments also alludes to the thesis-antithesis paradigm, but the codas provide a sense of unity between the instruments, much like the narrative.

I would suggest that the composer experiment with greater chromaticism and a wider array of chords and harmonies.  This work speaks of the composer’s understanding of Bach and Baroque composition, and next steps for this composer may be to write in the romantic or post-modern eras.  I would suggest the composer skip some eras, and go straight to others, because history does not have to dictate one’s progress.  Perhaps the composer will fall in love with impressionism, or get hooked on performances by Eighth Blackbird.

I would suggest the student listen to:

  1. Eighth Blackbird and Steven Mackey, from album “Lonely Motel: Music from Slide”, Track 2: “Stare Prelude/Overture”
  2. Leonard Bernstein, “Candide: Overture”
  3. Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”
  4. In case the composer has already heard no. 2 and/or no. 3, the jazz/fusion/new-soul band Snarky Puppy, from album groundUP, the track “Binky”

In all, this work is idiomatic for the flute, technically sound, and artistically engaging.

Good work, and good work to all the other composers who have submitted to this score call–every single one was a unique treat!


Tagged Tagged counterpoint, Emily DeNucci, new music, Score call, Three Canons for Two Flutes, young composer