MY VERY FIRST SOLO
for alto saxophone and electric piano
Program Notes by the Composer
My Very First Solo was written in 1974 at the request of Miller Sigmon, then alto saxophone soloist with the Marine Band, Washington D. C. It was premiered in July, 1974 by Mr. Sigmon and myself at the International Saxophone Congress in Bordeaux, France.
The title is misleading; the work is actually one of the most difficult ever written for the instrument. At the time of its first performance, it was a veritable glossary of contemporary performance techniques -- multiphonics, fluttertonguing, various new articulations, humming while playing, timbral changes, quarter-tones, etc. -- just beginning to be utilized by serious composers. But it WAS the first -- not to say only -- solo I had ever written for the saxophone up to that time, and thus the name.
The work, like many saxophone works of the French school, is in two major sections: a slow, rhapsodic interplay between the two instruments followed by a quick, mixed-meter dance. Basic serial techniques were utilized in generating much of the work's melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic material, and many other fragments were suggested by effects peculiar to the Moog synthesizer which I was also exploring at the time of the work's composition. These electronic effects of the composition are intended to be enhanced by the presence of the electric, rather than acoustic, piano as the accompanying instrument.
The electronic piano part originally was written for the 140B Wurlitzer, a piano with volume and vibrato control knobs designed primarily for university classroom piano courses and actually manufactured in DeKalb, Illinois where I have taught since 1966. Artists playing the Fender-Rhodes, Korg, Roland or other electronic keyboards of more recent manufacture should choose a keyboard preset that evokes the older Wurlitzer: a "plummy" sound somewhat similar to the timbre of the vibraphone but slightly fatter and sweeter. In addition, the instrument chosen must have a full five-and-a-third octave range (from A1 to C7) immediately available with no registration displacement necessary.
The saxophone part has been printed on heavy card stock to facilitate their "shuffling" during performance; the infrequent rests in the saxophone part made the routine page turns of an ordinarily bound parts format impossible to achieve.