Lorenzo's Clock (grade 3)

When Kevin Kozik, Director of Bands at Maynard High School, asked me to write a piece to celebrate the sesquicentennial of Maynard, Massachusetts, I had to admit that I knew very little about the town. I began my research process by reading Maynard, Massachusetts – A Brief History, which was a wonderful introduction to the town’s background and development, from the initial importance of the Maynard family and their role in the growth of the Assabet Woolen Mills all the way to the rise and fall of the Digital Equipment Corporation. After reading, I felt a need to see and experience the place before writing about it, so with coffee in hand from Boston Bean House, I strolled through town in July 2021, taking photos of the Assabet River, the enormous mill complex, Powell Flutes, and the Amory Maynard House. More than anything, though, I was struck by the dominating central impact of the Clock Tower, a beautiful structure rising above everything else in the middle of town. I knew then that this had to be the focus of any musical work celebrating Maynard.

 

The Clock Tower, built by Lorenzo Maynard in 1892 as a memorial to his father Amory, also appears on Maynard’s town seal showing the time 12:10, a reference to days gone by when the fire department would test their rooftop horn at 12:10 pm. In addition to the fact that the Clock Tower is a strong visible reference for Maynard, it also seemed to me that references to clocks and time would be more than appropriate in a piece celebrating the passage of time and the growth of a town.

 

Lorenzo’s Clock features the use of many elements related to the idea of clocks and, in particular, the time of 12:10 pm:

  • The percussion section begins and ends the piece by creating “clock” sounds.

  • The pitch material for the piece is based on a melodic idea that begins on Re, ascends to Mi, then descends to Re and Do (in scale degrees, this is 1,2,1,0).

  • The melodic “1210” idea discussed above is expanded into the harmony, using chords with an added 9th, so that the “1210” note collection becomes both melodic and harmonic. For instance, if you use the notes C, D, E (Do, Re, Mi) and add a G to it, this creates a major chord with an added 9th.

  • The added 9th harmony can also be played melodically in such a manner that it becomes the traditional grandfather clock chime melody, which appears at various points throughout the piece.

  • The numbers 1210 also are used to create the phrase structure of the piece by alternating phrase lengths of 12 and 10 beats each.

  • The overall form of the work is created through 24 repetitions of this 12/10 phrase structure, representing the 24 hours in a day.

  • The piece incorporates quotes from one of the most famous clock-related Classical works in the repertoire, the second movement of Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 “Clock.”

  • At the climax of the piece, the chimes strike 12 times.

 

As I worked on Lorenzo’s Clock, two basic themes emerged, both of which use the above elements and are therefore related. The first was a chorale, which to me represented the beauty and history of the town. The second was a more pop-inspired melody, which to me represented the energy of the present and hope for the future. The overall work, then, is structured as an alternation of these two equally important concepts.