Listening Guide: Scott Brickman

 

Overview

 

Brickman’s music draws on a sea of influences

The works on this album demonstrate the diversity of Brickman’s inspirations and musical interests

Altogether, these works draw on everything from Baroque dance suites, to the compositional methods of Arnold Schoenberg, to punk rock

This mixture of popular and historic references helps to mask, vary, and disguise Brickman’s overarching compositional tendency, which is to derive material using 12-tone techniques

The bricolage of influences evident in Brickman’s music broadly typifies post-modern American music composition

 

Selected Guided Listening

 

French Suite, for flute, viola, and cello

The work’s title and composition draws on Baroque French Suites, particularly Bach’s, and the French and French Canadian affinity in the state of Maine

Brickman resides in Maine and works as Professor of Composition at the University of Maine-Fort Kent

Note the prevalence of short, dotted rhythms in the suite’s first movement

This seems to reference the characteristics of Baroque-era French overtures, which were defined by the use of such rhythmic figures

Likewise, because of its tempo and 3/4 meter, the slower second movement seems to reference Minuet movements common to Baroque dance suites

 

Divertimento, for cello and piano

The genre of ‘Divertimento’ pieces dates back to the eighteenth century, and originated as light, melody-driven works

Brickman’s Divertimento only mirrors the prominence the melody plays in  divertimenti across Western music history

Note the pseudo-Romantic lyricism of the cello parts in the slow first and third movements

Less intense than the work’s faster movements, these – particularly the third movement – demonstrate Brickman’s facility with 12-tone composition, as he achieves melodic sweetness uncommonly associated with the fruits of that compositional technique

 

Wind Power, for flute and piano

Unlike the two above works, this piece is more self-contained and was not composed with a number of historical/other references in mind

Therefore, it makes sense to compare this piece, its style and form, to the others on the album

Consider, for example, the way Brickman molds a long, single-movement work like Wind Power, as opposed to the overall structures in a multi-movement piece of similar length, like the French Suite

 

Suggested Supplemental Listening

 

Daniel Felsenfeld, To Committee: A Self-Parody, for flute, piano, and cello (2012)

David Lang, Vent, for flute and piano (1990)

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