Doina was composed in April of 2008, while Robert Tanenhaus was being treated for multiple myeloma at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Although I did not know Robert personally, I had driven him to the hospital from Logan Airport a few days earlier, and I felt that the dedication seemed appropriate. Fortunately, I was able to record myself playing this piece on the flute the afternoon that I wrote it, so that Robert could enjoy it before he passed away on April 20.
The doina itself is a Romanian song style, common in klezmer music. It is a melancholic style, with a slow melody played in free rhythm. I did not specifically set out to write a doina, but after I finished, I realized that my piece fit the style quite well. When I first sketched out Doina, I only had a bare melody -- expressive, but bare. Then when I started to learn it on the flute, I discovered that the melody naturally lent itself to many embellishments -- grace notes, pitch bends, and percussive gestures -- that I did not initially notate. I also realized that, while these embellishments were idiomatic to the flute, that the overarching melody of Doina would work very well on a number of melodic instruments, but that different instruments would be suited for different sorts of embellishment. I decided, then, to first make an "all-purpose" edition of Doina, suitable for performance on any melodic instrument. I wrote out an introductory cadenza, indicative of some of the gestures I might want performers to use, which led into the bare melody, written with very spare expressive markings. The performer is given leeway to interpret dynamics freely, and to embellish the melody at will, even going so far as to improvise brief passages between phrases. Having written this basic version of Doina, I now wish to write seprate versions for specific instruments, such as flute, violin, or cello, with particular notated embellishments idiomatic to the individual instrument. Additionally, I am considering writing an optional accompaniment part for accordion, with sustained chords outlining the harmonic motion of the melody. Right now, however, I have other more urgent projects to work on.