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That Takes Care a' That

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Laura M. Kramer

Laura M. Kramer

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General Info

Year: 2015
Duration: c. 20:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manuscript


1. Always Somethin' - 9:54
2. Steps - 10:09


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Laura M. Kramer writes: That Takes Care ‘a That was written as my dissertation for the doctorate in composition, and I am delighted to have composed it for the students at Cal Poly [California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo]. The work is a musical portrait of the journey that has been the past few years, reflecting the ups, downs, anxiety, and growth that comes with grad school, as well as the time that I have spent hiking and exploring California since moving here. It is in two contrasting movements, both of which incorporate a hypereclectic range of styles, from jazz patterns, to the ‘80’s and ‘90s rock and pop that I blast in my car while commuting to San Luis Obispo from Los Angeles, harmonies that may be heard in Hitchcock films, and idioms from band music that I grew up with. During the early stages of writing this work, my grandfather had passed, and I decided to name each title after expressions that he used to say. With that, the main title seemed amusingly fitting for a dissertation!

The first movement, ‘Always Somethin,” is fast, driving, jazzy, and chaotic, with a slow, bluesy section in the middle: It begins with a series of fits and starts: every time the semblance of a tune begins to develop, it is interrupted. Sometimes the interruption is accented by a brake drum, and at other times by a timpani glissando, or several instruments rapidly repeating one note. Even the first lick in the tenor saxophone solo is jagged and abrupt, and can’t seem to get started. Grooves do break free and settle, only to dissipate shortly thereafter, and eventually, all falls apart into cluttered noise at the end.

“Steps,” the second movement, is lyrical with a wandering melody. Similar to a recent work of mine, on the edge for alto saxophone and guitar, “Steps” depicts hiking solo in California. Two landmarks influenced the shape of this movement. The first is Tahquitz Peak in Idyllwild, a 360-degree viewpoint at 8,000 feet, where mountains, desert and lakes in the distance, alpine greenery, and rock formations can all be seen in one glance. Likewise, when hiking Montaña de Oro, something new comes into view with every turn, from sand dunes, to beach coves, and the Morros across the fields. “Steps” portrays this ability to see such a variety of different ecosystems and terrain all at the same time, a California feature that I have become fascinated with. Views that come in and out of focus are represented in the music through pallets of textures that weave in and out. A choir of clarinets creates murmuring effects, while swelling drones pass from one instrument to another, the brass enters with chorales, and the saxophone solo constantly meanders. Every time a theme returns, it is varied, as though looking at it from a different viewpoint.

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