This document is a study of Jody Rockmaker’s Character Pieces for viola and piano (2014). The study begins with discussion of the work’s origin, then goes on to describe each of its three movements in some detail. A recording of the work with the author as violist is included.
The composer is a former violist and worked with the author on developing Character Pieces. Although the work is demanding, it was written with consideration of viola technique and the instrument’s characteristics and sound.
The composition is of approximately 15 minutes’ duration. Each movement is in a different tempo, fast-slow-fast, and with individual expression, though the pitch organization of all three movements is based on one hexachordal set. Rockmaker’s intent was to depict certain personality traits often found among violists. These attributes are evident in the titles of the movements: the Class Clown, the Mellow Fellow, and the Hipster-Intellect. The music, in addition to being intricately organized and technically suited to both instruments, also expressively portrays these character types.
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