Composer: Samuel R. Hazo
Arabesque is based in the mystical sounds of Middle Eastern music and it is composed in three parts. "Taqasim" (tah'-zeem), "dabka" (dupp-keh), and "chorale." The opening flute cadenza, although written out in notes, is meant to sound like an Arabic taqasim or improvisation. Much the same as in jazz improvisation, the soloist is to play freely in the scales and modes of the genre. In this case, the flute plays in bi-tonal harmonic minor scales, and even bends one note to capture the micro-tonality (quarter-tones) of the music from this part of the world. However, opposite to jazz, taqasim has very little change to the chordal or bass line accompaniment. It is almost always at the entrance to a piece of music and is meant to set the musical and emotional tone. The second section, a dabka, is a traditional Arabic line dance performed at celebrations, most often at weddings. Its drum beat, played by a dumbek or durbake hand drum is unmistakable. Even though rhythmically simple, it is infectious in its ability to capture the toe-tapping attention of the listener. The final section, the chorale, is a recapitulation of the previous mystical themes in the composition, interwoven with a grandeur of a sparkling ending.
Samuel Hazo writes, "Both sets of my grandparents immigrated to the United States: my mother’s parents were Lebanese, my father’s mother was Lebanese and his father was Assyrian. Sometimes in composition, the song comes from the heart, sometimes from the mind, and sometimes (as in this case) it’s in your blood. The Indiana Bandmasters Association asked for a piece that was unique. I had not heard any full-out Arabic pieces for wind orchestra, and I knew of this culture’s deep and rich musical properties… so I figured that one might as well come from me. (Plus, my mom asked if I was ever going to write one.) I hope you enjoy Arabesque."
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