Chamber Music Compositions
by Wadada Leo Smith
Stone - flute | Agnes Gottschewski,
Christine Frank - violins
Jan Karlin - viola | Maggie
Edmondson - cello | Stuart
Fox - guitar
I composed my first composition when I was 12 years old; it
was a work for three trumpets. From that time period forward
I considered myself a composerperformer. My formal studies began
with Earl Jones and Henderson Howard who were my school bandmasters;
Mr. Howard was also my trumpet master. My stepfather Alex Wallace
introduced me to the art of music improvisation. At 13 1 began
to perform in blues bands all across the Mississippi delta.
Music research began
after composing my trumpet trio; I first looked for the African
American composers. I came across the names of Scott Joplin,
William Grant Still, Duke Ellington, W.C. Handy and Blind Tom.
There was very little information regarding the lives of these
composers. I began to investigate a wider sphere of music cultures,
taking the world as my largest cultural field with all the rights
and privilege accorded to humankind.
In 1964 1 purchased a
Deutsche Gramophone box set of three discs containing all six
of Béla Bartók string quartets composed from 1908-1939.
A few years later I was given a score book of Bartók's
Six String Quartets - I've been studying these scores ever since.
The greatest influence and my largest research model for the
string quartet has been Béla Bartók, Charles Ives,
Ornette Coleman and John Cage.