Dialects-1 (The Hunters’ Song)

The Hunters’ Song

For: Solo instrument (Piano)
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Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
6 minutes
Modern classical music
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DIALECTS-1 IN AFRICAN PIANISM "The Hunters’ Song" Op. 18, 1986, Rev’d 1998

The Hunters’ Song is so named because the piece is based on a tune that is sung by hunters during ceremonial or festive occasions. All kinds of associations exist in Ghana, such as for fisher-folks, farmers, bakers market women and so on. These traders and associations create various songs for their goods and festive occasions. The songs provide a source of inspiration when one intends to emulate the particular stylistic features embedded in them. In the piece, dramatic moments have been built-in to reflect moments of exuberance that the hunters experience when they know that their kill would feed the entire village. The composition has been so crafted so as to provide the boundlessness that the professional pianist seeks. Dialects-1, like most of the other Dialects, is architecturally structured: Introduction, A (abc), B (ded), C & D. The opening introduction mm.1-11/11 anticipates Section B mm. 93-234/142. It has a hymn-like character with built-in quartally structured scale-like outbursts. In Section A (a) mm. 12-20/9 the basic folk tune is established, characterized by quartal-tertian sonorities, spliced together, to create a unified syntax. Section A (b) mm. 21-53/32 is basically an extemporization of the folk tune. After an initial percussive and dramatic passage, the mid-portion unfolds. The delicate melodic passage that ensues is charged with a rhythmic drive that provides the essential charm of the sections. Mm. 54-92/39 constitutes A (c) It continues the spirit of free invention as it subtly moves through the keys. Section B mm. 93-224/132 constitutes the most dramatic section of the piece. Though it is quite different from Section A, its presence does not sound surprising because it has already been anticipated in the introduction. It has a hymn-like character with emotional outbursts. Mm. 93-103/11 constitutes segment d. It is essentially a phrase group. After its repetition, segment e mm. 114-135/22 is ushered in. The bass figuration is quite innovative in the sense that it performs both harmonic and percussive functions. A short bridge, mm. 136-139 prepares the return of segment d mm. 140-168 The consequential hymn-like passage is stated in mm. 169-175/7, after which the quartal scale passages of segment d’ are spun out in mm. 176-190/15 to create more dramatic outbursts ultimately leading to a rather poetic and tranquil passage with its characteristic ostinato accompaniment. This tranquil moment eventually leads to a variant of A - mm. 191-221/31. Before the Closing Section, a tranquil passage manifests one more time mm. 222-236/15, still unified by the same gentle but persistent bass obstinate figuration. Section D mm. 239-293/55 constitutes the Closing Section. It is tertially and quartally conceived and dramatically ends the piece as it probes the extreme ranges of the keyboard. In this piece then, one encounters a basic folk-tune and its extemporization, hymn-like moments interspersed with dramatic utterances, percussively conceived accompanimental figurations that possess harmonic as well as percussive functions, contrasting moments of intense energies countered by tranquil moments. These features, then, shape-up Dialects-1. E. Gyimah Labi Newark, NJ (1998)

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