Moonbow

for flute, violin, viola da gamba, cello, and harpsichord, 2015, duration: 15 minutes.


      A Moonbow is similar to a rainbow, but is created by moonlight.  A Moonbow is also known as a lunar rainbow, moon rainbow, or lunar bow.  It is a rainbow produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon (rather than from direct sunlight) refracting off of moisture in the air.  Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light reflected from the surface of the moon. They are always in the opposite part of the sky from the moon.


     “Moonbow,” for flute, violin, viola da gamba, cello, and harpsichord, was commissioned by Mélomanie and premiered April 8, 2015, at West Chester University.  It is divided into 13 contiguous sections.  The music of each section is quite varied from “rhapsodic images” in which each instrument presents a florid, ornate gesture over the ensemble, to “Cello float” in which the cello presents an introspective, pensive song-like melody over the ensemble, and “blues chorus” in which flute and strings present a chorale of rich harmonies against harpsichord walking bass, and “Interwoven (but not Bach)” in which all instruments participate in a contrapuntal section, and “Angelic over vamp I and II” in which the harpsichord vamps on chords unrelated to the other instruments sustained harmonies in a tonality quite different from that of the harpsichord.  The first section, “Spectral arc,” deserves special mention since it consists of little bits and pieces of all the latter sections thus changing tempo and character many times over the 22 measures.  It serves as a forecast of things to come. 

            I have a fascination with timbre or color as a motivating parameter in my music.  The successive entrance and fades of flute and strings create an evolving timbre in such a way as to imitate opening filters in electro-acoustic music.   Some of my earliest materials in composing “Moonbow” are “borrowed” from two of my pieces from several years ago – “Night Washes Over the Mind” and “La Luna Piena” (The moon is full).   So Color/Night/Moon were figures in my decision to title the piece “Moonbow”.

 

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T   © Larry Nelson 2017