Sonata deus sax machina
Sonata deus sax machina combines the traditional formal aspects of the classical sonata genre with some more recent musical trends and languages. The work exploits many of the coloristic and virtuosic qualities unique to the alto saxophone including the use of multiphonics, quasi-pizzicato slap-tonguing, and its altissimo register.
Sonata deus sax machina was commissioned by Timothy McAllister with the intention that the work may evoke images of machines or machine-like activity. The title itself is merely a play on words to employ the words “sax” and “machine”; it is not meant to imply anything resembling the literary device “deus ex machina”.
The work is in three movements, each of which reflects a specific abstract type of machine or machine-like quality.
The first movement is in a strict sonata-allegro form and may be likened to some sort of perpetual motion motor.
The second movement is a chaconne of sorts that exploits the lyric and melodic use of multiphonics in the saxophone over a steady harmonic ground in the piano. The stasis in this movement may abstractly resemble the hum of an electric clock or fluorescent lights.
The third movement (rondo-psycho) may bring to mind the various stages of the operation of a cartoonish machine.
The work is cyclic as similar motives and themes appear in all movements.