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Michael Stoop: Coral Coast ...Embedded video
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I visited the Coral Coast of Fiji in October 2017, and the beauty and tranquility of the region inspired me to write a short suite. While sitting on my hotel room’s balcony, gazing out towards the crashing waves on the distant reef and the perfectly still lagoon in the foreground, a melody spontaneously popped into my head. The day after that melody hit me, I did a long run along the coastline. I started trying to imagine what I wanted the Coral Coast Suite to actually sound like, and I got the idea for what turned out to be the first theme of '3. Along the Sunset Strip'. The natural pace of the run was partly responsible for the energy and rhythm of this theme, but the Fijian singers I saw in the resorts were the main inspiration. They often perform in groups of three or four, and strum their own accompaniments on guitars and ukuleles.
'1. Sigatoka Sunrise' is based on a reworking of the first theme of '3. Along the Sunset Strip', and it was the final piece of the suite to be composed. It is in ternary form, with a short middle section that is mostly based on reworked thematic material. I started composing this movement on the 1st of December 2017, and I had basically finished it by the 8th.
I started writing '2. Noon at Natadola' on the 10th of November 2017, and it was completed a few days later. It is based on a reworking of the second theme of '3. Along the Sunset Strip'. The reworked version ended up sounding really different to the original though, because the reharmonisation transformed the originally major melody into a dorian one. The piece has a slightly unusual form; it consists of one long section that is heard twice in row. A third repetition then begins, but it is soon interrupted with a short coda.
Soon after returning home to New Zealand, I started notating and developing '3. Along the Sunset Strip'. It ended up exhibiting many of the features of sonata form, although there are some significant differences. Two contrasting themes are presented at the start of the piece, before a brief development section that reworks material from both themes. The first theme then returns in the dominant key, before an unexpected breakdown/solo, which is reminiscent of electric blues or rock. The second theme then returns in its original key, and a short quote from the solo section concludes the piece. I had essentially completed the piece by the 21st of October 2017.
- Sigatoka Sunrise
- Noon at Natadola
- Along the Sunset Strip