23 April 2010

To-do list

Things to see to this weekend:

§ Complete Swivels & Bops

§ Triage Here You Go

§ Import Mirage into Sibelius (largely for purposes of sound-file)

§ Triage doing the same for Night of the Weeping Crocodiles

§ Upload sound-files for Mirage & Night (may involve segmentation)

§ Furnish links to Interested Party

§ Create events for 21 & 22 June concerts

§ Create concerts

§ Oh, and do some practicing

20 April 2010

April is the musicallest month

Recently, I reached a state of peace with the idea of an ‘abbreviated’ optional version of The Angel Who Bears a Flaming Sword for unaccompanied trumpet . . . I sliced and diced, and a just-over-7-minutes version has emerged, which I think flows reasonably well It feels short to me, but of course, it would. My thoughts are these:

1. Let the original version remain available; you never know.
2. Hopefully, getting the ‘abbreviated’ version actually performed will get things in motion for the trumpet version.
3. I’m less anxious about the idea of the changes, since the piece as originally composed lives on in all events as a flute solo work.

Working last week on Angular Whimsies, I wrote out both the rest of the bass cl, and devised a bongo ‘dialogue’ against it. I made my way to the end, felt that the piece was largely done, but was dissatisfied with the effect of the last three-four pages. It was not so much a matter of doubting the material, as wondering what adjustment(s) needed making . . . I felt strongly that I still had some work to do, but intuitively I felt that if I discovered the right path, I could erase my dissatisfaction with those pages, with efficiency of effort.

Essentially, I managed a series of tempo changes, added the 32nd-note gestures which are now interspersed through the bass clarinet’s sustained notes in mm. 243-283, and either simplified or removed (the most radical simplification, I suppose) perhaps 5-6 measures strewn through the bongo part. Those modest steps took me from dissatisfaction with the last four pages, to . . . well, I like it very nicely now.

It’s something of a ‘Debussy trick’, but Angular Whimsies includes a bit of bass clarinet flair that I wound up getting some mileage out of. I started with writing it just as a frenetic solo outburst (mm. 119-129). Later, I thought it would be fun as a duet with the vibes . . . and I decided that I wanted a somewhat slower tempo, so that we can enjoy the intervals between the two, and the interaction of the timbre. Even at the slower tempo (mm. 152-162) I think it gives a sufficient impression of exciting velocity. I might almost have left it there, but then I thought that if the material comes back, with the bongos, it will practically sound new (mm. 285-295) and I get the compositional benefit that it neatly ushers in the ending The other (obvious?) benefit is, that the bass clarinetist practices that one passage (and, it will want a little practice, you know) and gets good use for that practicing time.

And now that Angular Whimsies is in the can, I can concentrate on finishing Swivels & Bops.

Almost immediately — while Peter Bloom and I were first rehearsing Heedless Watermelon — I knew I wanted to expand on the ’melon, and write a three-number suite for flute & clarinet. The ‘slow second movement’, All the Birds in Mondrian’s Cage, came to me with gratifying rapidity. Since then, it has been partly a matter of work on other things, partly an uncertainty that my initial sketches for Sw & B are really what I wish to do with the piece.

So I essentially started out anew last week, and I won’t be long about it. I’ve done some writing on the train going in to Boston, on the Green Line’s E train, and in the North Station lobby.

These swivels are getting around. I am careful to attend to some boppage, too.

Ah the marvels of the Internet(s).

My clarinet teacher posts rarely to fb, but she did recently, about upcoming concerts she is playing with a trio (cl/vn/pf). So, I pinged her with an e-mail message asking if I’d sent her any Henningmusick of that scoring.

She wrote back (with marvelous economy), No. Can you? So, last night I managed to find pdf files I had already prepared of Night of the Weeping Crocodiles & Mirage. I don’t know why I don’t already have pdf’s of Fragments of « Morning Has Broken » . . . but I quickly found the source Finale files both for Fragments, and for my arrangement of the Sibelius Valse triste. Sent them all to Nancy last night.

Got word from her this morning that she will be meeting with the Gang of Three on Friday, and they’ll do some reading.

A hundred small things . . . .

19 April 2010

Without comment

And now, some Beethoven, sponsored by tamponcrafts:

06 April 2010

Back to Paper

I started yesterday morning by drawing the line across the page, beneath the second staff. Above the line was sketched, oh, maybe two weeks ago . . . surprised myself to find that this was all I had done on paper, before going to town in the ‘virtual environment’ of Sibelius. Angular Whimsies is two-thirds done, before I got to work this morning; so I’m closing in on the final three minutes’ worth. I’m cooking the bass clarinet line first, and will fold in some mildly furious bongos afterwards.

Oh, and I drew the initial sketch at the top of page when I was still thinking marimba. That changed.

[ click for larger image ]

Don’t know why blogger flipped the photo wrong. Sorry.

03 April 2010

Surprising Discoveries & Thence Gratitude

A bit uncharacteristically (I shall claim) slow, I have only now updated the performance calendar on my site.

2009 proved the most active Henningmusick year to date; and the thanks are due to fellow musicians Peter H. Bloom, Paul Cienniwa & Nicole Randall-Chamberlain, and to fellow-musician and publisher Mark Gresham, for creating the occasions for all the music-making.

The immediate finding for 2010 is that my music has already been performed four times this year, and each of those oocasions was the musical and organizational labor of others.

Thank you all!

02 April 2010

No foolin’

Of course, the contemplative’s ideal is what we must all come to before we reach heaven, and of course if one can it is convenient to stop wasting time and get through as much as possible of purgation here. But don’t you think most souls are of slow growth?
— Evelyn Waugh
(Letter to Thos Merton, 28 August 1949)

My blogging these days is rather sporadic, so I elected not to post anything yesterday. Safety First.

To begin with, Paul Cienniwa played a harpsichord recital (including a new-ish piece), and earns favorable press:

“Not everyone can capture the Baroque French style as Cienniwa does.”

Good start on the bass clarinet / percussion duet Angular Whimsies for DMC Duo. Their June tour includes a date here in Cambridge, so incentive is strong for this Opus 100.

Chap with whom I had planned to play on the 18 May recital at King’s Chapel forgot about Pennsylvania. Or, had not realized that Pennsylvania is where he will be on that date. So flutist Peter Bloom has most affably agreed to come aboard for that date; and with Peter on the program, it is no Plan B. More on which a bit later.

Initial word comes in from my old schoolmate Steve Falker viz. The Angel... Good positive response, yet also tentative confirmation that the piece is “a little long to keep the trumpet on the face.” Clear to me that I need to consider the most musical method of abbreviation. Not at all any musical tragedy, as the piece in its original daunting dimensions lives very nicely as a flute solo.

Curiously, that consideration also provokes ideas for alternative approaches to the flute solo version. (In fact, it is a possible strategy to relieve the trumpeter, as will appear.) I’ve got an idea of having Peter Bloom play the alto flute version this May in King’s Chapel; and at three points, inserting clarinet solo ‘interruptions’. Of course, it may just be a weird passing thought.

Or maybe, as I mull it over, I’ll just plain like it.

(Could be playfully thinking of music as always a work-in-progress, in honor of Boulez’s 85th birthday.)

Nicole Randall-Chamberlain (flutist/composer) and Brian Chamberlain (guitarist/composer) will come to Boston in June. We shall all play a concert or two together, one of them at First Congo in Woburn on Monday, 21 June. For that occasion, my fingers are crossed that we may at last hear the première of Gaze Transfixt . . . maybe Lutosławski’s Lullaby, too. Paul may by then have electrified a harpsichord, and we can give that a test-drive, too. Seems we ought to have a piece for the occasion on which we all play together, and sonic ideas are forming under the name The Sleeping Beauty’s Dream.

And Paul & I will rehearse Lunar Glare today.