Karim Al-Zand: Music: Stomping Grounds


Stomping Grounds

for clarinet trio

In early music, a “ground bass” (or simply, a “ground”) is a composition built upon a repeating melodic phrase or harmonic progression. Stomping Grounds comprises four diverse character pieces, each one using a repeating rhythmic idea as its musical basis. The first movement, hop | skip | jump, is playful and animated, with a fanfare-like theme and a persistent seven-note chord that serves as the movement’s musical “clock.” Behind its exuberant surface is a fourteen-beat rhythmic scheme (2+3, 2+3, 2+2) that is followed throughout. The second movement, dog days dirge, is slow and languid, the instruments seeming to move as little as possible. The piano repeats thick chords in a pattern which moves ever-so-slowly, while the violin and clarinet echo each other’s motives lazily. A welcome freshness arrives in the next movement, mbira song. The mbira, or “thumb piano,” is an indigenous percussion instrument of Central and Southern Africa. Its music is characterized by numerous rhythmic layers, superimposed and interwoven to create a sort of syncopated “music box.” The third movement tries to capture the charming grooves of this musical texture. Rhythmic performance anchors the last movement even more prominently. In early jazz, “stop time” is the term for a sparse, punctuated accompaniment, one usually meant to support a showy tap dance routine. In sto(m)p time dance, the trio provides both the song and the dance. The players trade solos, bang out rhythms with their feet, and bounce along briskly in a spirited finale.Stomping Grounds was commissioned by Brian Connelly and CONTEXT, with grant support from the city of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

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score
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DATE
2015

DURATION
15 minutes

INSTRUMENTATION
clarinet, violin, piano

MOVEMENTS
1. hop|skip|jump
2. dog days dirge
3. mbira song
4. sto(m)p time dance

COMMISSION
CONTEXT with funds from an Individual Artist Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance

PREMIÈRE
October 25, 2015, Houston TX
CONTEXT
Brian Connelly, piano | Richie Hawley, clarinet | Eric Halen, violin


AUDIO

1. hop|skip|jump
2. dog days dirge
3. mbira song


SCORE
PDF

© 2015 KARIM AL-ZAND