for oboe and string quartet, 1989, duration: 14 minutes.1

          STRIDER, for oboe and string quartet, was completed in the latter months of 1989.  The work is dedicated to my friends of long standing, Rheta and Lloyd Smith.

            I don't always have the title of a piece well in mind during the actual composing of the work, but in this case, the title was part of my thinking very early in the process.  I felt the opening rhythmic energy as a kind of "striding" pulse.  For me, then, STRIDER, conveys that energy associated with long, confident strides.

            The work is in one movement of approximately 15 minutes duration.  While the work is not noticeably sectionalized, for the purposes of analysis, STRIDER may be thought of as having two parts.   

            Part One is used to introduce several musical ideas.  There is a secondary plot to part one and that is the gradual integration of the oboe and string quartet into a unified ensemble.

            The opening music has a decided foot-tapping pulse, suggesting a rather confident, positive "stride".  The pitch material is derived from the pentatonic scale and focuses primarily on the pitch-class set of a major triad with an added second (0,2,4,7).  Gestures from these opening measures are used as punctuation throughout the body of the work.

            Additional ideas presented in the first part are (a) a short sequence of descending thirds (0,1,5) which eventually, in the development section becomes a nervous, highly syncopated dance gesture, (b) a highly rhythmic, angular ascending gesture, frequently presented in canon, which emphasizes a pitch-class set of a minor triad with an added second (0,1,3,7).  This material builds to the edge of a climax when suddenly the mood changes to the third character, (c) the slow and quiet motion of the "dolce" section.  This chorale-like section is first presented as the private domain of the string instruments.  It is related to the opening measures with its generative pitch-class set of a major triad with an added second (0,2,4,7)

            Part Two consists of the development of the musical ideas which were stated in the first part.  Each idea competes for acoustic space sometimes as a solo and sometimes as a synergistic "us against them".  The chorale-like "dolce" section provides an insistent background of the last 100 measures of the piece, over which the materials of part one are combined, chained, imitated, and considerably transformed, creating an organized chaos of vastly different types of motion.   Each instrument has the responsibility of representing constantly changing levels of musical energy more or less simultaneously.  At the end of part two the opening string measures are presented in retrograde while the oboe recalls florid melodic materials.  The work closes with soft, slowing cello "strides."


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1 Published by Theodore Presser Co., Inc.

2 Published by Carl Fischer, Inc. = available from Theodore Presser Co., Inc.

3 Recorded by CRI. - available from New World CRI :  Catalog No. NWCRL484

4 Recorded by SEAMUS Recordings

5 Available from the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music

6 Recorded by Black Canyon Recordings

7 Recorded by Albany Records

T   © Larry Nelson 2017