Edmund Scott Miller, composer

musicmiller.com


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Sonata in D — for double bass and piano

Performed by Buddy Griffith on double bass and John Bailey on piano.

Program Note:

The Sonata in D for Double Bass and Piano is a single movement Sonata Allegro form that works to juxtapose simplistic, diatonic, chant-like music with dense, chromatic, ‘romantic’ music. Both themes emerge from an initial stasis into immediate contrapuntal conflict. Neither side is given quite enough room in the exposition, but representative key centers of D and A-flat are established for the chant and romantic themes, respectively. The development features a rapid shifting of ideas as the two concepts influence one another harmonically, temporally, and motivically. The recapitulation features the themes in reverse order, suggesting a triumph of the romantic theme which is finally presented in full. But then the chant theme returns unadorned, emerging seemingly unscathed by the conflict or by its nemesis’ poignant assertion. A brief coda refuses to confirm either, or maybe it validates both.


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Evolution — for multiple percussion trio

This┬áchallenging piece was written for and dedicated to a favorite group of percussionists lovingly dubbed the ‘Three Boss Gentlemen.’ It has yet to see a public performance, though it was recorded in December 2011 by the Gentlemen themselves, Alec Dube, Torrell Moss, and Sean Perham. Special thanks also to Tim Bausch for recording their performance.

Program Note:

This composition is constructed organically with short motives and rhythmic fragments. There are three main sections, each marked by a distinct tempo and prominent timbre. Throughout the piece new sounds are formed through the amalgamation of different timbres. Each family of percussion instruments is represented by its most simple or pure sound: the woodblocks for wood; the bell of a cymbal for metal; and a tenor drum for skins. The first major section deals mostly with the timbral development of the skins and wood instruments. The second major section begins by developing metal sounds alone and then adds in the other timbres until they have evolved into a climax involving the loudest instrument in each family: the slapstick, brake drum, and bass drum, respectively. The third section is the arrival point and is marked by a sonorous transformation of the cacophony that came before. Here, all of the pitched percussion instruments take over and make melodic sense of the rhythmic and gestural material. The main motives are sorted out. The composition’s destination has been reached and the understated conclusion reminds us where it all came from.


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“Edification” — sonata for string quartet

This single movement for string quartet was written for a reading session by the MIVOS Quartet during their brief residency at SUNY Fredonia in September 2012. I was experimenting with form as well as style. The Classical quartet as well as the post-war avant garde were my two main influences. In the process of writing the quartet, I began to think of this disparate combination as Haydn-meets-Penderecki; the Father of the string quartet at odds with the genre’s outer limits.

The piece was performed and recorded by a wonderful quartet from Fredonia. Thanks to Stephen Minor, Giovanna Ruggiero, Chelsea Hadden, and John Chatterton for wonderful performances and to Tim Bausch for producing such an excellent recording.

Program Note:

“Edification” presents two closely related themes, in unstable incarnations at first. Parts of each of these themes are abstracted and explored to their limits before being reconstructed. Having gained a new strength from the disarray they have experienced, the themes are now able to stand on their own as well as coexist in a meaningful way.


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“Solus” — for orchestra

“Solus” was adapted from some sketches of mine for a solo piano piece which was abandoned in favor of the full orchestra version. It was written for a reading session at SUNY Fredonia and that recording is presented here. Not bad for a reading, listen to them trombones!

Instrumentation: 2 fl, 2 ob, cl, bcl, bsn, cbsn, 2 hn, 2 tpt, ttbn, btbn, timp, 2 perc: (1. xylo, vibes; 2. tam-tam, tri, sus cym), hp, strings


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“When You Are Old” — Song for Mezzo-soprano and Piano

This beautiful poem by William Butler Yeats was brought to me by my friend Tami Papagiannopoulos. This song was written for and dedicated to her. It is performed here by Tami (mezzo-soprano) and Allison Peden on piano.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

-W. B. Yeats

Program Note:

“When you are old” sets the melancholic scene of Yeats extraordinary poem with an endless yearning motive. The ternary form is suggested by the poem. The music of the outer sections surround us, like the mournful text and lonely fireside setting surrounds the speaker. The music of the middle section comes from the speakers own mind and is static yet persistent like a ubiquitous memory.