Communal Effort is relentlessly energetic music in four continuous sections, plus an introduction from which all the subsequent materials are drawn. The developmental “engine” is based on gradually evolving repeated motivic cells, like many classic works of 1970s minimalism, though with a greater degree of variation and harmonic mobility than those models.
The flexible-instrumentation format of the piece gives the players a large amount of leeway to decide how it will ultimately sound; my hope is that this will assure each performance is unique not just in interpretational nuance, but in overall quality of timbre.
Communal Effort is written for a quartet of instruments (clarinet/bass clarinet, violin, cello, and piano) alongside an ensemble of flexible instrumentation. This flexible ensemble is divided into five parts, which are not defined as rigidly as in a conventional score. Performers should adhere to the following general guidelines:
All parts must be covered; none are optional. This will likely require seven or more musicians (in addition to the “fixed” quartet).
Players are encouraged to explore different instruments, techniques, and arrangements, drawing on cues from the music to create their own unique interpretations of the score.
Not all the music in a part will suit an instrument equally well. Players can move between parts as they see fit, and can share or double a part (this is necessary in some cases, as with monophonic instruments playing polyphonic passages).
Players can play different instruments in different parts of the piece.
Notes should be played in the written octaves as much as possible; in extremes of register, however, octave transpositions are permitted.
The ensemble should be lightly amplified and mixed to account for balances.