I made myself sit down and work on the Adagio for the cello sonata, and I think I may have made some progress. I’m still not completely on track, but I think I have some building blocks.
The building blocks include:
- an extremely limited dynamic range, from pp to pppp
- short ascending chromatic fragments
- a tonal language that is ambiguously tonal/atonal
Another thing I’m playing with is independent cello and piano lines. One bit I’ve gotten down on paper involves the piano playing a steady ostinato while the cello grinds out its chromatic fragments, lagging further and further behind. The problem is that all that has to play out in my head; I can’t notate it in a way that the computer can play accurately. It’s a problem because I’m not a real composer: I rarely hear these things in my head, and I won’t be sure it really works until the players try it, and then they’re 700 miles away.
It’s also a problem because you won’t get to hear the movement in any meaningful way. I’ll eventually put up something, but it won’t be the real thing.
On the whole, though, I think it is promising. What I have written made me feel very, very icky, almost queasy, and that’s actually my goal. That way, the third movement becomes a tremendous release.
At any rate, I’ve emailed Stephen (our cellist) to ask some pertinent questions about my strategies; I’ve not heard back.