for flute (optionally doubling alto flute and piccolo) and bassoon
PACSOG II is the second of two pieces loosely modeled after the Baroque dance suite, particularly the layout used by J. S. Bach in his six suites for unaccompanied cello. The word is a mnemonic made up of the first letters of the movement types in order. Prelude, Allemande, etc. Generations of music majors have used this to remember the disposition of the movements.
A Prelude is optional, but when included took many forms. It is often not dance-like. Mine is a free fantasia.
The Allemande is a dance in moderate tempo, in duple or quadruple meter. The opening almost always features a single pickup note, or a group of three pick up notes before the first downbeat. Interior phrases often begin with pickup notes as well. I follow these conventions.
The Courante is a lively dance in triple meter. Like the allemande, it frequently begins with a pickup note or notes.
The Sarabande is a slow, stately dance in triple meter, often very expressive. It frequently features a long note on the second beat of the measure, a feature I have adopted. It is the only genuinely serious movement of the set.
The “Other” movement (sometimes called “Optional”) was freely chosen from many possibilities extant during the Baroque. I have used the very unBach-ish waltz, only the second waltz that I have ever written. More typical choices would be a minuet and trio, a bourée, or gavotte, although there are many possibilities.
The Gigue (the word relates to the English “jig”) is a lively dance in compound meter, in which beats are divided into three equally spaced notes rather than the two found in simple meter. (The waltz is in a slower version of compound meter; the other movements are in simple meter.) In this case I think the gigue might actually sound a bit like a tarantella.
PACSOG II was written in August of 2020 for my long-standing friends and colleagues, Kathy and Matt Karr, principal players in the Louisville Orchestra, and people with whom I shared some of my time playing in orchestras in Mexico. In honor of that there is a thinly-disguised reference to a well-known Mexican folk dance in the Gigue. We are also colleagues at the University of Louisville School of Music. PACSOG I, written earlier the same year for alto saxophone and piano, was composed for our mutual colleague, saxophonist Adam McCord. They are all champions of new music and have played my music on numerous occasions, for which I am eternally grateful.
Despite the difficult times and circumstances surrounding their creation during the pandemic, both pieces are generally light-hearted, except for the quite serious sarabande movements. While the characters and conventions of the dance movements are similar in the two pieces, they do not literally share any material.