Procession burlesque

Composition Date: 1998
Duration: 00:19:00
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Chamber Orchestra (10 to 20)


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Flute
  • 1 x Oboe
  • 1 x Clarinet
  • 2 x Other percussion
  • 1 x Piano
  • 2 x Violin
  • 1 x Viola
  • 1 x Violoncello
  • 1 x Double bass
Instrumentation Set Number 2:
  • 1 x Chamber orch.
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Programme Note:
PROCESSION BURLESQUE was commissioned in 1998 by the Societe de Musique Contemporaine du Quebec, with fuding from the Canada Council for the Arts. The work is dedicated to Walter Boudreau. In PROCESSION BURLESQUE, for the first time, I was drawn to the possibilities of using a mechanical approach for the purpose of deconstructing (and not merely creating variations on) the work of another composer. In this instance, I was drawn to the chorales of Johann Sebastian Bach. Initially, I was curlous to see if there was a way I could incorporate all 371(!) of Bach's collected chorales, but quickly realized that my deconstructionist aspirations would be better applied in this instancee by using just one. In settling on "Es ist genug", I was guided by the knowledge that I would be creating a kind of "double-allusion" or "double-reference" not only to Bach, but also to Alban Berg, who incorporates this same chorale imo the final minutes of his Violin Concerto. Indeed, much in the same way that Berg altemates phrases of the chorale with Bach's harmonization and those with his own harmonization, at the end of my work, the notes of the chorale In Bach's harmonization are mapped onto different harmonic spectra, creating two distinct simultaneous layers of harmony. The exactitide of the "information" in Bach's chorales (i.e. four distinct clearly moving lines,) lent itself nicely to a broad spectrum of appropriations, variations, or deconstructions. As described previously, the notes in Bach's harmonization could be superimposed onto other types of harmonic structures, ordered by spectral, serial, or other means, to create distinct simultaneously compatible layers of harmony. As Bach's chorale is free of omamentlon and other decorative devices, there was much room for me to build my own (burlesque) embellishments, such as incessantly repeated trills, or infinite cascades of semitone runs and other flourishes. The melodic material is often treated by a number of finite steps to create new serialized or otherwise modified lines, guided by other more general parameters in Bach's writing (such as contour), creating varying degrees of similarity or dissimilarity between the original and modified versions. As the material accumulated in my creating this work, it became quickly apparent that the different episodes seemed to correspond neatly to one of two contrasting dramatic models- on the one hand, the slow, heavy, ritualistic sensibility invariably suggested directly by the chorale of Bach, and on the other hand, a fast, rhythmic, and almost circus-like type of passage, having seemingly little in common with
its counterpoint. Thus, I claose the metaphors of the procession and. the burlesque to differentiate these two dramatic models which seem to exert a kind of "black and white" dominion over the work's emotional makeup. (Chris Paul Harman, December 2000)

Premiere Information:
November 14, 1998 Pollack Hall, McGill University, Montreal; SMCQ Ensemble, Walter Boudreau, conductor.


  • Call Number:
  • MI 1200 H287pro 1998
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Chamber Orchestra (10 to 20)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • February 22, 2005
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (ii, 37 cm.) ; 43 cm.
    39 Pages
    Height: 43 cm
    Width: 28 cm
    Parts page count: 124
    12 parts ((124) p.) ;
    Height: 28 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • For chamber orchestra.
    Instrumentation: 1(picc)1(eng hrn)10/ perc.(2), piano/ strings.
    Percussion: crotales, marimba, vibraphone, tubular bells, large bass drum.
    Cimmissioned in 1997 by the SMCQ, with financial assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts.
    This work is dedicated to Walter Boudreau.
    Photocopy; master of score and parts in CMC Toronto.
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