Harold Groenenboom

June 25, 2020

Exclamation: A musical piece about nature and humanity

Hi everyone,

About a year ago I finished my composition called Exclamation. A musical piece centered about nature and humanity. This was my first time writing for a saxophone quartet and mezzo soprano. It was a huge and important experience to be able to work together with the amazing musicians from the HKU conservatory. I've learned a lot from them and the whole experience helped me to look forward to composing more complex and conceptual pieces.

A lot of my initial inspiration came from Steve Reich. I've always been fascinated by Music For 18 Musicians. If you don't know it yet, I can really recommend taking the time to find a nice and quiet moment to listen to this composition. The incredible electronic-music-like trance, pulsing infinity and beautiful arrangements inspired me to look for new musical qualities to incorporate into my own work. As I often do, I started out on my piano. Tapping on the wood, playing chords and humming melodies. I wanted to create a piece which would truthfully honour a simple motive/theme. So I started by composing a simple theme. I wanted a recognizable and impressivly sounding theme. By repeating it all over the piece in a very neatly designed and fragmented way I've tried to amplify the way the meaning of the theme is formed.

After running in to the poem 'Wistful in the Wilderness' by Marco Buschini I was ready to finish the piece. I found a beautiful interplay between nature and humanity and found my conceptual inspiration in the way we as technologically developed humans are still as surrendered to nature as hunderds of years ago. We live as a part of nature and nature ultimately decides the way we live. We are bounded with nature in the inevitability of time. In the end this was my main inspiration: As seasons fade, the forces of nature sound endless and gentle, while we try to find our way to fit in. I decided to voice humanities adjustments to nature by using the human voice and lyrics from the poem and I decided to voice nature with consonant harmonies between the electronics and saxophones.

Dec 2016
Wistful in the Wilderness

Into the wonderment of your autumnal mind.
Where the skin of your grief sheds its leaves.
Is the song of your sea bound into colourful light?
The Shepherd breaches the flock of your dreams,
And the pastures breathe a sigh of relief,
As your tears of morning dew
Glisten the parched landscape.
Does your bouquet of *****
Lay wistfully in the wilderness?
The skies of blue that reside in your eyes
Serenades the coming of the tide,
Harvesting the fruit of our labour of love.
Is this a wind of smile that turns into a voyage of valiancy?
A flock of thoughts liberated with a cry of exclamation
As your fears of autumn blue
Are exiled into the rapacious wind.

- Marco Buschini

The writing proces expanded over a long time due to a short writing block. But in the end it was finally finished. I was excited to share the piece to the musicians and after looking at the piece together I was also very glad to hear they liked it. We started rehearsing and it just felt right. After only a few rehearsals we had the chance to play the piece in a huge church in Utrecht amongst other new experimental compositions. I love to present to you the recording of our final performance together. Please enjoy!

Leave a comment on youtube letting me know what you think, I'm very curious. I'm also glad to mention the recording is officially on spotify. You can listen to it here via this link: spotify. For anyone interested in playing this piece or knowing more about it, please don't hesitate to contact me via info@haroldgroenenboom.nl. The score is available for sale on Gumroad.

Thanks to Marco Buschini for allowing me to use the poem and inspiring me. Thanks to Annely Leinberg (Soprano), Pantelis Lykoudis (Soprano Saxophone), Katerina Parpouna (Alto Saxophone), Lars Van Keymeulen (Tenor Saxophone) and Simone Nederhof (Baritone Saxophone) for rehearsing with me, setting aside time, inspiring me and playing my composition. I had a great time.



LINKS: Marco Buschini - Wistful in the Wilderness - Exclamation on spotify - Exclamation live on youtube - Buy Score


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