The flute and piccolo music of Martin Amlin: An introduction, discussion, and analyses of the Sonata for Flute and Piano; "Trio Sonatina" for flute, clarinet, and piano; and Sonata for Piccolo and Piano
Jelle, Lisa A.
Brandt, Anthony K.
Doctor of Musical Arts
The compositional style of music for flute and piccolo by Martin Amlin is examined through formal and harmonic analyses and through interviews with the composer and the musicians most closely associated with the works, flutist Leone Buyse and piccoloist Zart Dombourian-Eby. Amlin's compositional style as represented in these pieces may be described as combining characteristic twentieth-century American driving rhythms and perpetual motion, symmetry on multiple levels, and a unique blend of French use of color and phrasing. Complex rhythms and constantly-shifting meters and timbres give the music a kaleidoscopic effect. The composer's fascination with symmetry is reflected both formally and harmonically, in both the often-used arch form and the frequent use of serialism based on symmetrical tone rows. Symmetrical division of meter often produces jazz rhythms, and major and minor 7th chords are featured due to their symmetrical sound. Amlin's style of serialism appeals to many because of its unusual, almost-tonal sound. This effect is due to the structure of the rows, in which half of the intervals are perfect 4ths; many major and minor 7th chords are produced internally. This is intentional on the part of the composer, who is not so much intent on abandoning all tonality as on producing music that finds favor with both the ear and the mind. All three pieces exhibit use of the full range of the instruments, a quality that both Buyse and Dombourian-Eby mentioned as appealing to them. Yet, as in the style of the best sonatas of the repertoire, the parts are balanced; lines interweave, rise, and fall in a balanced whole. As more flutists become aware of the quality of these works, they will become a strong and vibrant staple of the body of flute and piccolo literature.