Remi, for Piano

Today marks the seventh birthday of my older child, Aderemi. In the year of her birth I wrote a three-movement work for piano which takes the short form of her name as its title.

The music is diatonic, in the key of C major/A minor throughout. It has a childlike quality to it and is simply conceived, although not necessarily as children’s music.

“Oh Seven” is dated “07 07 07,” and is in septuple metre. The only fast movement of the three, it is entirely focused on the interval of the fifth, with suspended second chords being added at the halfway point. Generally, rhythmic patterns remain constant while the harmony changes.

“Queen Peace” refers to the Yoruba origin of my daughter’s name, which translates as “the crown brings peace.” The movement is a very simple waltz based on four five-note chords in A minor, with the bassline D, G, A, C. The main melody is somewhat uncharacteristic for me, though it flows logically from the chords. The middle section echoes some of the kalimba music I have written.

“A New Day” features short, two-voice canon loops in the right hand, and includes two patterns from my string quartet Madra as well as some new ones. It was written while my left hand was in a cast due to a cycling accident. The parallel fifths in the bass were all I could manage, and they connected this movement to the opening one as well as bringing forward a chorale texture overall.

Happy birthday, dear Remi!

Composed 2007
Recorded 2013, Roland digital piano direct to file

Photos by Layial El-Hadi (“Oh Seven”), Bruce A. Russell (“Queen Peace,” “A New Day”), Krista Ellis (cover)

Music and composer’s notes copyright Bruce A. Russell 2014

Author: elmahboob

Bruce A. Russell, aka Ibrahim El Mahboob, is a composer and self-taught pianist. He studied at York University with James Tenney and Phillip Werren. He has composed music for the Madawaska String Quartet, McMaster Dancers and Modern Times Stage Company. He was host of Radio Music Gallery, and has written for Musicworks. His interests are in postminimalism, music of the African diaspora, and the intersections of technology, media and popular culture. Bruce lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.

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