03 September 2015

Somewhat disorderly

The date for Kammerwerke (maybe) to read the 5-minute start to the Op.130 [title under reconsideration] appears to be 3 October.  You never know.

Continued progress on the Op.129.

9th Ear talk about concerts in March.

I showed some of the Tiny Wild Avocadoes to a new acquaintance, who agrees that they are fun.

Adapted Sparrows Hopping on the Wet Sidewalk for tenor saxophone for my niece, Anna.

31 August 2015

Suggestions for Post Title gladly entertained

Farewell, final weekend of Summer 2015. Made a little progress on the Op.129. Learnt that an Oregon performance of Out in the Sun is slated for this autumn.

It must be only a passing whatever-the-right-word-may-be, but my recent experience has been, motivational misalignment. I want to have finished the Op.129 yesterday;  yet my music generator is humming with material for two other pieces. Must find a way to harness and re-channel the vibe.

Other uncertainties shimmer in the air. Some of which, I should happily trade in for even tentative assurance.

On ye other hand, there is no end to the practice of waiting.

30 August 2015

Gardening (they're all flowers, if you tend them right)

As for a while I had meant to, this morning I reached out to the dedicatee of ... illa existimans quia hortulanus esset ...., Op.121, to ask if there is any musical quarrel, any objection which I may seek to make right.  There might be:  you never know.

Thought I had done this already, but I do not find any email in my Sent folder to confirm so . . . so I've also written to Rodney Dorsey to ask if a piece for 17 winds and harp may be of interest.

Wondering this morning, too, if Misapprehension may work for a choir of flutes.  Or . . . double-reeds?  Oh, madness that way lies . . . .

28 August 2015

Interesting Timing Dept.

Today, for First-Listen Fridays!, my listening included two pieces by Hovhaness: Requiem and Resurrection, Op.224, for brass choir & percussion (1968) and Symphony № 19, « Vishnu » Op.217 (1966).

From the composer’s notes to the CD:
The idea for Requiem and Resurrection arose in 1967 after the first terribly cut performance of Symphony No. 19 “Vishnu.” I was deeply disappointed because I felt it was one of my best works. . . .
and:
The first performance [of “Vishnu”] was conducted by Andre Kostelanitz with the New York Philharmonic in 1967.
Connecting the dots, then . . . Vishnu had been commissioned by the NY Phil and Kostelanitz, so perhaps the assumption of editorial rights was a function of feeling that they “owned” the composer on this occasion.

Personally, I find this story encouraging, both because there has been an occasion or two when my work was cut, in spite of my conviction of the value of the lost material; partly because yesterday (per my earlier post) was a story of discovering new music from the ashes of a disappointment.

In all events, both pieces are top-tier Hovhaness, the Requiem and Resurrection in particular.


Plan B: The Op.112 Ramifications


No one who has looked over the score of my Misapprehension for clarinet choir in 15 parts, Gentle Reader, will wonder at my wishing that we might hear an actual performance. At the time of the above-linked post, I was thinking of mandolin orchestra as an alternative scoring; but on cooler reflection, the search for a mandolin orchestra which could manage 15 wilfully independent parts would prove (if anything) yet more quixotic than the original scoring. This week, the thought of a more suitable Plan B, an alternative scoring which many would likely have thought more obvious, lit upon me. More on that afterwards.

The non-performance of the Op.112 made me wonder if I had not misapprehended the mission. So I reached out to my esteemed colleague, Dr Timothy Phillips yesterday.

Hi, Tim! I am guessing that my Misapprehension is not the good fit for your clarinet choir that I had hoped. It is my own fault, pretty much writing the piece which I wanted to write. If I were to make a second attempt, how should I do things  differently in a new piece?
Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Even before I heard back from Tim, ideas formed for a new piece (for the moment: piece x). I saw (or “heard”) directly the tone, texture, and overall arc of the piece.

With an amiable forthrightness entirely in keeping with his commendable character, Tim returned to me with a most admirable promptitude;  and he laid bare that that very September saw a sharp rise in the number of clarinet students, and thus an increase in his own studio time.  One way in which the schedule perforce gave is, the clarinet choir now might enjoy perhaps three rehearsals to prepare for a concert — and Misapprehension is certainly a piece which will want more than [its portion of] three rehearsals.

We then had an exchange on how a new and better-suited piece ought to sound, in whose course I had to confess to a probable lack of any talent for writing music which might set an Alabama dad’s foot a-tapping.  (And, incidentally, rendering piece x a non-starter for our purposes.  But not at all any loss, as shall be seen hereafter.)

That modest (and, so far as is yet known, entirely accurate) soul-shriving done, however . . . I then took thought for musical material which may in fact suit the demands and logistics of Tim’s fearless clarinet choir (for the moment: piece y).

Pastoral Interlude

Earlier in the week, on my after-work walk to the pond, when I reached one of my favorite spots — a deep cabinet of slender pines — my eyes were met by an unusual sight.  A young person was seated on a stump, oh, perhaps 150 feet into the brake.  It isn’t often I see anyone lingering in that spot (most of the people I see are folks walking about, like myself — which means that, hey, I seldom linger there myself . . . seldom, though not never), but I certainly had never seen anyone there, with a handheld device, and earphones.  I am not writing this to judge:  here was someone perhaps who needed to be alone for a while, and this was the way in which she needed to inhabit solitude.  On the face of things, it did look like a sorrowful icon of Our Disconnected Age, each individual in a cocoon of symbiosis with a smartphone.  As one who avails myself daily of the convenience and interconnection which a smartphone provides, I understand the grey area, and my hand shan’t take up that stone, thank you very much.

Why I mention this here is, that I reached those pines on my walk yesterday, when (by the way, availing myself of the smartphone which I almost always carry with me — it serves as my pedometer, as well) I had sent the above message to Tim, and my musical mind was turning to a new piece (piece x, you may recall).  My walk yesterday, and the spacious, many-columned beauty of the place gave me the musical ideas;  and the unhurtful pang of recalling the sight of that lone youngster yielded a kind of title (you knew, Gentle Reader, that I should not leave it at “piece x”).  It started out (arguably, a little petulantly) as:

The dream of a young man in the woods, listening to something through ear buds

— All right, I should interrupt this momentarily, to acknowledge that, really, I need to press on with writing From the Pit of a Cave in the Cloud, and anyone who knows Professor Admee knows how implacably impatient she must be with me, that I am not simply about it.  Why must I be surrounded by idiots? I can hear her soliloquishing.

Well, too many ideas is a great problem for a composer to have, I think;  so I welcome the ideas for both pieces, x & y . . . and I wanted to sketch the ideas down, for future completion.  So this is the apologia for yesterday evening’s activity.  (I vow to devote the weekend to the Professor, and to the Professor alone.  Musically.)

— So:  The dream of a young man in the woods, listening to something through ear buds.  I did not necessarily mind the ponderous length of the title.  (Indeed, that was part of the point at that stage.)  I suppose my dissatisfaction was a matter of feeling a certain insufficiency of poetry;  and thus it was, too, that I was struck by the botanical-pastoral (God save me for sounding like Polonius) resonance of ear buds.  So the second version of the title is what appears on last night's version of the score:

Ear Buds (The dream of a young man in the woods, listening to something)

Much an improvement, I think.  But now, the weakness of the superfluous-at-best (carping at less-than-best) to something is made painfully apparent.  If we simply lose that—

Ear Buds (The dream of a young man in the woods, listening)

— the result commends itself.

It has already been told how I first conceived of this piece as the new clarinet choir piece;  but whatever its virtues, it is no toe-tapper.  Yet the idea is technical ease;  so I have decided to make it a piece for high school band.  It will work even better with more and varied voices, and I can figure out how to give the percussionists things to do.   I composed the first 16 mm. of Ear Buds last night.

The homey rhythmic requisites for the new clarinet choir piece suggested the dance form Stomp.  At first I thought Cancelled-Stamp Stomp, and although I rather like it, the Op.131 contains a recent reference to postal cancellations, and without a musical connection (which seemed inapt), the duplication were perhaps lazy and inartistic.  Still, I wanted a local stamp, so I’ve settled on Saltmarsh Stomp.  Again, only as a bookmark, I composed the first six measures last night.

That much settled and accomplished, I am now Admee’s solely . . . .


27 August 2015

henningmusick: From the Archives: After a concert at Jordan Hall

henningmusick: From the Archives: After a concert at Jordan Hall

One of the things I find most interesting about revisiting this post is, that now, 13 years on, I generally enjoy Ives better, think better of him. Some of the collage-charabancs, probably I am still apt to lose patience with. But in fairness and good musical conscience I must retract the snide crack about that ain't Ives yer whistlin'.

What if I were to hear that program today? Chances are high that I should still have thought best of the Stravinsky. Perhaps, even if I might still have the odd artistic quibble with the other items on the program, my ears might be more musically charitable.

Jeu d'esprit

In the first place, no: I am not exactly sure why.

I had other (and soberer) music which I needed to write, and instead I dedicated the laborious portion of a (mostly relaxing) Sunday afternoon (ye gods, such profanation on the Sabbath Day!) to this rather absurd item.  I do not believe I had ever before considered a stylish re-scoring of the Pachelbel Canon, and why this particular thought careened through my brain at this particular time baffles me.

It must have been the money.

The parameters were simple:  (a) I wanted my own ear to be engaged and amused by the unfolding textures; (b) I limited myself to those instruments which sound reasonably good "out of the box" in the Sibelius sound library;  and (c) since this was purely a matter of generating a sound-file, and not any practical matter of assembling actual musicians, I just chose sounds as they occurred to and pleased me, not worrying about logistics of transporting instruments or hiring players.

If it takes on, though, an actual score could be produced . . . .