|The Hampton Institute Sonata was composed while
Jon Michael Spencer was a student at Hampton University. This substantial
four-movement work, written for alto saxophone and piano, reflects the
ambition and drive of an enthusiastic young composer. The three extant
movements, one, two, and four, are labelled Allegro ma non troppo,
Andante, and Rondo-Presto and are in the keys of A major, D major, and
A major, respectively. The first movement contains technically challenging
and florid writing in the solo part. Among meter shifts and frequent accidentals,
the solo line contains many triplet, quintuplet, and sextuplet figures.
The lovely melody of the second movement is often supported by jazz-influenced
harmonies. This movement is light in texture and mood and contains many
meter shifts and intricate rhythmic figures in both parts. The last movement
is more subdued than the first, but no less driven by several occurances
of ostinati in the base line. A large portion of the movement has its rhythmic
basis in the uncommon meter of 7/4. Often considered a more rustic dance
meter at faster tempos, its use in this work might be considered equally
African- and European-influenced.
Original in the collections of the Hampton University Archives.
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