Orianna Webb -- Works
The Time Being (for orchestra)
Listen to excerpt 2 (at around 6 minutes) (mp3: <1 MB)
In The Time Being, zones of clarity and transparency give way to zones of translucency or haziness, and back again, all over a musical pattern that repeats throughout the entire piece (an ostinato). At the beginning, the textures, tone color, meter, and pitches are clear, through three iterations of a sensual, melancholy melody. Then, the music breaks apart into layers; while the steady eighth notes of the ostinato remain, other lines move at faster and slower rates, in seemingly independent meters, and timbres are mixed to create a more ambiguous sound world. The surface of the music gradually gets more agitated, as "foreign" pitches are introduced into the layered patterns, increasing the sense of tension. Then the tension breaks, or resets, as the oboes enter with a version of the opening tune decorated with ascending flourishes. The texture builds again as all the instruments join in, and the ostinato itself goes into slow motion as the rest of the orchestra speeds up to a climactic reappearance of the opening melody in the brass. After a kaleidoscopic turn through the full chromatic, the music finally subsides. As it does, the ostinato disperses, the notes of its final appearances scattered throughout the orchestra as though blown away by the breeze.
The Time Being in this orchestral version is dedicated to my friend the painter Barbara Thomas, whose canvases, exploring color, form, and line from subtle to explosively vibrant, watched over me and cajoled me as I worked on this piece.