Doug Opel



for 3(picc)33(e-fl)3(contra) 4331 timp, 3 perc, hp, pno/cel, strings

Written: 2002
Duration: 14:30
Instrumentation: 3(picc)33(e-fl)3(contra) 4331 timp, 3 perc, hp, pno/cel, strings

Program Notes

Episodica is a single movement work for full orchestra loosely based on the literary technique of telling a story by paying particular attention to individual scenes, or episodes.

The episodic technique itself is extremely effective whether dealing with separate story lines linked by a common thread, or a single tale containing an intricate network of subplots and character developments. With either scenario, the normally chronological staging of events is purposely broken up into sections, "shuffled" and retold out of sequence, to create a toggling effect in the case of multiple storylines, or to heighten the sense of joining a story in progress (or both). Initially, the progression of the tale feels more or less static, like reading a collection of short stories, until gradually - or more often suddenly, at some defining moment - subject matter begins to gel. Subplots and individual story lines merge and the connection between opening events, originally perceived as random or disparate, becomes clear.

To realize this musically, I sought to convey my musical thoughts in brief statements. Each statement is introduced in distorted, fragmented or incompletely orchestrated fashion and either mutates into a variation later in the work or disappears altogether. To imitate a sense of chronological manipulation, allusions to music history are made through stylistic references to specific composers (Beethoven, Bartok, Stravinsky, Holst, C. Matthews) or more generically, to one of a multitude of music genres (Classical, Romantic, Contemporary, Jazz, Funk). A "toggling" effect is produced by an almost complete absence of transitional material. As the work approaches its final climax, all materials previously perceived as self-contained entities pitted against each other become unified and ultimately give way to the muddled and chaotic introduction which reappears, metamorphosed as the closing.