Three Studies for Baritone Saxophone and Electronics
Movement I: Percussion
Movement II: Passacaglia
Movement III: Melody
Written by Chris Cresswell
Performed by Melissa Widzinski
April 30th, 2011
Setnor Auditorium, Syracuse University
Melissa Widzinski, baritone saxophone
Chris Cresswell, electronics
When Melissa Widzinski asked me to write a piece for baritone saxophone and electronics I became fascinated by the possibility of exploring human generated sounds and timbres expanded, using the electronic component to expand these timbres beyond human capabilities. The resulting work breaks into three movements, each of which is connected by pitch content, but explores different timbral possibilities.
The first movement, Percussion, is based on the primarily non-pitched sounds that the saxophone can produce. This includes breath, slap tongue, and key clicks. When the electronics come in, they take these sounds and expand them beyond human means through granular synthesis and other digital effects. As the piece concludes we hear the first pitched material of the piece, which outlines the pitch set . The second movement, Passacaglia, builds off of the pitches first heard in movement I. I took the pitch set  and built a five note row based around the note “D”. [D,C,Bb,F,Db]. I then serialized the five-note row to create the harmonic material for the passacaglia.The final movement, Melody, begins with an electronic accompaniment. The drone background is made up of the same pitch material as the passacaglia, [Bb,C,D,Db,F]. The saxophone plays a semi-improvised melody while the drones constantly change dynamics and panning creating a piece that is simultaneously static and constantly moving.
Three Studies for Baritone Saxophone and Electronics was premiered on April 30th, 2011 in Setnor Auditorium at Syracuse University by Melissa Widzinski and Chris Cresswell.