Reflections from Maytudes
May 11, 2020
Version for French Horn and Bassoon Commissioned by Bill Bernatis
Version for French Horn and Flute Commissioned by Larry Purdue, for Clara
From “Maytudes” – a french horn etude project in consultation with Gail Williams, with one etude created every day during the month of May, 2020
from composer Jim Stephenson (from original Maytudes etude book):
Two things happened yesterday that inspired today’s Maytude:
First, I went for a run early in the morning. It was after an all night rain, and the sun had come out (briefly!), At that moment, the reflections created by sunshine on the fresh puddles on the pavement were quite stunning.
Secondly, we spent the day with the kids (one zooming in from Holland) re-watching old family videos, and having a lot of good laughs.
It was these two types of “reflections” that brought about today’s etude.
Full disclosure: this etude was written a decade ago, during my first-ever attempt at an etude book (for trumpet).
I thought it was worthy enough to reprise here.
At first glance, it looks to be a lyrical etude, with opportunities to work on smooth slurs over a wide variety of intervals. It has tempo fluctuations, which can most certainly allow
for personal expression.
But there’s a little secret to this one as well; another reason for the title.
One might notice that there are a few strange-looking occurrences
in this study: such as courtesy flats (meas. 6) where they don’t need to exist,
and a measure (m. 25) with double-bars all to itself.
This is because the etude can also be turned upside-down, and when
omitting the REFRAIN staff-system (the last line),
it becomes nearly the exact same music as when played right-side-up.
The only “ripples” in the reflection are a couple of occasions where octave displacements need to be accounted for, and where flats don’t appear where they should.
The added courtesy accidentals help the etude when played upside down,
and the extra double bar is the mid-point, where the etude crosses over itself.
Let’s face it – reflections, or memories, can be skewed sometimes.
I discovered that yesterday, and was happy that those old videos reminded me of things I had otherwise not recalled quite accurately.