25 July 2024

Yesterday's Press

This is how you know you’re old. I’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome from scrolling to my birth year on online forms.
Les anges et les oranges.
Sorry I was unclear what the Nebula Award is for.
From the floorboard of his florid Ford, Lord Peter torpedoed the torpid and bored.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I guess God made Boston on a wet Sunday.

— Raymond Chandler

As I reported here, in March of 2018, I was in keen anticipation of a second performance of Plotting. On arriving in Florida for the event, I was most pleasantly surprised by that great rarity: my name in print. I see, in revisiting that blog post from 6 years ago, another instance of conversations with local music directors apparently going nowhere.

23 July 2024

Out of Dreamland

Pre-apocalyptic eucalyptus.
The Noon Witch, or Prelude to the Afternoon of a Bewitched Faun.
Per Kevin Carubia ... “Thinking outside the box”: exactly what you do not want your cat doing.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Treat a work of art like a prince. Let it speak to you first.

— Arthur Schopenhauer.

It’s rare that I dream about composing, and rarer still that I wake up feeling that the music I just dreamt that I wrote will actually work in the waking world. I just dreamt I wrote the start of a Concertino for bass clarinet and orchestra. I remember enough detail to start notating it. This is genuinely exciting and uplifting and positive. That said and truly registered, I’m not writing it yet. Today I have the unsettling uncertainty of where I shall reside six months from now, so that my heart is not yet into composing anything new. And there is the borderline-crushing practical fact that nobody needs such a piece by this Henning, and I really do not have heart at present to create another large ensemble score just for the shelf. My shelf is sufficiently crowded at present.

22 July 2024

And Another Duo From Eight Years Since

”Cambridge Scientists Trace Aging of All Organisms to One Thing” Time? (Sorry—couldn't help myself.)
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

[Of ancient Greece]:The very poorest citizens had a chance to become President, but somehow they didn’t. It may have been just a coincidence.

— Will Cuppy, from The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody

I composed a flute duet, Neither Do I Condemn Thee, Opus 132 in October of 2015 for Duo Zonda, Wei Zhao & Orlando Cela, who received it with warm kindness, and moreover gave the work its  première at the Church of the Advent on 18 March, 2016. Attentive readers will perceive that this was the same concert whereon Peter H Bloom & I also performed.

21 July 2024

Eight Years Ago, Three Duos

My banking app, if you please, tells me, “I have new insights to show you.”
Where geese have been, a wise man watches his step.
C’est le Gruyère ... all we are saying is give cheese a chance!
The uncle dude unglued.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Art is a celebration of the fact that the most important things in our human lives might be invisible, intangible … and unmarketable.

— Stephen Hough

On 18 March of 2016, when there was still a concert series curated by flutist/composer Matt Samolis at the Church of the Advent in the Back Bay, Peter H Bloom and I performed the three duos of my Opus 97:

1. Heedless Watermelon
2. All the Birds in Mondrian’s Cage
3. Swivels ’n’ Bops

15 July 2024

A Pause

Idea for an accounting franchise: Whole Numbers
“Everything is dishwasher safe if you don’t care enough about it.”
Breakfast of fear: Dreaded Wheat
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

“I suppose this unfortunate fowl was born and brought up in a cellar," “ said my aunt, “and never took the air except on a Hackney coach-stand. I hope the steak may be beef, but I don’t believe it. Nothing’s genuine in the place, in my opinion, but the dirt.” “Don’t you think the fowl may have come out of the country, aunt?” I hinted.”"Certainly not,” returned my aunt. “It would be no pleasure to a London tradesman to sell anything which was what he pretended it was.”
— Chas Dickens, “David Copperfield”

What to do when you don’t know what to do, and feel unequal to creative work?

The past several posts have seen me revisit pieces I wrote however long ago, and which have failed as yet to be performed. There are more, of course. That, we might say, has been the trouble. 

11 July 2024

Sorting Out All the Bliss

All he wants to do is sing “all she wants to do is dance.”
Oh, yeah, this song goes on! Long after the thrill of hearing it is gone.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I think the acquisition of an understanding of irony is a step forward, not backwards

— The ever-dry Mr John Cleese

YouTube being one of a number of environments in which the search function is dodgy (I remain certain that I uploaded earlier a version of the Saltmarsh Stomp, but good luck finding it) if I search in a certain way on my channel, I see that in January of 2016, the piece freshly finished (it rather looks like I chopped the piece out on New Year's Day), I was sufficiently enthused to upload three versions of Things Like Bliss: what I then called the original version (version 1) was the four-minute Ur-text. As I wrote here, I came to like the piece longer, and so it seems that the original version 2 was the nine-minute result, and on adapting the piece for flute, I dubbed that version 2.1. It looks very much like I prepared another adaptation with mandocello (which suggests that at the time I was still hoping for a Ninth Ear performance) but we’ll leave that curiosity in its apparent evaporation. For my own satisfaction, and for clarification, leave us reboot the matter thus: Let the four-minute version remain a buried fossil. I pronounce the newly-completed clarinet and harp scoring Version 1, Opus 137 № 1. I shall presently apply myself to the alto flute, viola and harp adaptation for Ensemble Aubade, which will bear the designation Version 2, Opus 137 № 1b. And the luckless clarinet, two guitar and double-bass scoring will be Version 3, Opus 137 № 1a. And there the Things Like Bliss shall stand, or rather, lounge peacefully. I shall write about other Opus 137 matters another time.

10 July 2024

The New Face of Bliss

Loose, wordy, and not of the modern world. I may possibly have a negative side, too.
It cannot be helped. I never noticed until today that one anagram for “pedestrian” is “deep strain.”
“I just think that Catholic spokesmen should hesitate and reflect before calling anything they disapprove of, ‘a trap for the gullible’.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

We all sat down [...] and looked at one another in a friendly but rather awkward way. It was the first practical trial of our theories of equal brotherhood and sisterhood; and we people of superior cultivation (for as such, I presume, we unhesitatingly reckoned ourselves) felt as if something were already accomplished towards the millennium of love. The truth is, however, that the laboring oar was with our unpolished companions; it being far easier to condescend than to accept of condescension.

— Nathaniel Hawthorne, from The Blithedale Romance

Earlier, I spoke of a rabbithole of re-scoring Things Like Bliss.I can happily report that this was an undue exaggeration. I may explain at another time how I fell into that misprision, or then again, I may not. As reported erewhile, the original 2016 scoring was for clarinet, two guitars and de minimis contrabass. It seems that I then made an adaptation for flute, for my friend and colleague Peter H. Bloom. Why? I’m quite puzzled by that myself, as (impractical as it proved for me to assemble a brace of guitarists) I do not think it was ever particularly likely that Peter would collect so many guitarists instead, or either. Today I pushed on and finished the clarinet/harp retrofit, although I need to proof the harp part (particularly the bass clef, as pasting into different voices sometimes yields odd typographic artifacts. I think the odds are good that I attend to clean-up tomorrow, ahead of PT on Friday. As I was coming into the home stretch today, I thought should I prepare a version for viola? Now, before we leap to the accusation of reflexive unnecessary version proliferation, a real vice to which I am historically susceptible, which is partly why I thought there were more versions of Bliss than in fact, the viola thought inspired the very happy prospect of a practical adaptation: fl/va/hp for Ensemble Aubade. I believe this is the ticket, in being a version—the version—which will at last result in an actual performance.