29 February 2012

Leap Day Blues

Fellow composer, from Buffalo days long gone by, Paul Elwood is at NEC to-night where the Callithumpers are playing a piece of his'n. Bummed that I'm missing it. Pleased, though, at the thought that I ought to be able to catch up with him a bit après-concert.

Separately — The Monkees were probably my first-ever awareness of sock hats…

27 February 2012

Stranger on a train

Stap my vitals if it was not until I watched the Oscars that I learnt of the passing of Farley Granger, a principal actor in Strangers on a Train, probably the Hitchcock movie before the classic trilogy of Vertigo, Psyco and NNW that I like best.

Of course, I've already mourned Peter Falk's passing ere now … and I've watched many an hour of Columbo in memoriam, as 'twere.

Recent musical revisitations have included a Haydn F Major pf trio (N° 40?), a Mozart B-flat Major concerto (N° 27), and the Yes album Tormato.

And furthermore

Building a groove for Latest whispers. Nor will it be an especially Latin groove, though there be a certain environmental temptation thither.

Here, again, I find ideas which I sketched some months ago. In this case, though, I've no reason to labor over second-guessing them. Just plug back into the flow…

25 February 2012

Quite nearly a wrap

… on N° 4. In the event, I did expand significantly upon that initial stub of a B section (14mm. in that first sketch; now 26mm. plus a 4-mm. retransition into the A'). Although the B section has its design/process elements, too … and the expansion is itself mostly a strict canon at the semitone … it's got an agreeably spontaneous feel which contrasts well with the cooler, ritualistic tone of the outer sections. The tight canon has a good quasi-Romantic stretto vibe. And I've written blurry borders between the sections. All in all, pleased with the result. And for a piece within a series titled These Unlikely Events, a number running perhaps two minutes, which I left unfinished in Boston this past December, to return to and complete in Puerto Rico in February seems well in keeping with the title.

24 February 2012

In hot pursuit of a B section

In a pocket of this three-ring binder, I find a slip of non-MS. paper with a few verbal notes about N° 4 on one side, and a string of pitches and rhythmic values which must refer to the Viola Sonata on the reverse.

Of course, I took it for a sign, and I used those pitches (and their transposed inversion) in the sketch I made of the B section this afternoon.

Now, having sunbathed and cavorted in the surf, I may well expand upon this.

Carrying on w/ n° 4

That idea, yesterday, that the A' section was already done, was only partially in error: rhythmically, yes, it was done (which fact of itself must have felt like an improvement upon the A section, so long in the correcting/refining). Looking back (in order to look forward), I must not have finally addressed pitch matters for the A' section, while they remained up in the air for A.

There was probably just enough of a degree of frustration, back in December, in the apparently eternal incorrigibility of the A section, that even had I succeeded in knocking it into shape, mayhap I should only have felt an exasperated sort of relief. On some level, I expect that I knew that — and thus the abandonment of N° 4 at that time was less artistic laziness, and more a wish to remain on the best of terms with the nascent piece.

My work on the piece now is with an entirely fresh mind, and with the pieces falling into musically tidy place, I like the piece better now than ever — and that, of course, is driving enthusiasm to get more work done.

I began work on the B section to-day. My thoughts for this part remain very flexible, partly so that I remain receptive to my memory being jogged, that I might recall whatever I was thinking earlier (if indeed I ever thought on it more than I'm doing now), partly because, now that the "mechanical" work of "repairing" the outer sections is done, I feel that my touch now is more artistic, and a little more work may yield large benefit.

23 February 2012

Back to the duets

Last I was at work on the clarinet duets, nos. 1-3 were done, and although I had got quite some flight time logged with no. 4, I was still in the process of refining the rhythmic canon of the A section. (I'll need to reacquaint myself with the draught of the A' section, but I have an idea that that part is all set.) All that, as of about the second week of December, and I've not (or, scarcely) touched it since.

Yesterday, I (probably) got the A section about tied up. May take another look after a good sunbathe …

18 February 2012

The sans of time

On the face of it, this unnatural hybrid of the dollar sign and the lower-case g is an unnatural typographic horror. Must admit, though, that the font designer made it work. That it should be sans serif was probably the very first decision . . . .

BSO 11 Feb 2012

Jaap van Zweden débuts at Symphony Hall in Boston:

[ link → review ]

North End Story

I like the Bible in Latin:
Smoke on your pipe . . . and put that in!

— from an early draught of West Side Story

13 February 2012

History of poetry

Just confirmed that my first awareness of Jn Greenleaf Whittier‘s “The Barefoot Boy“ was courtesy of Bullwinkle‘s Corner, with Rocky doing a Winslow Homer turn.

09 February 2012


1. D. Scarlatti: Sonata in G, K.454 (Pieter-Jan Belder)
2. Bonzos: "The Trouser Press" from The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse
3. F. Couperin: 12ème Ordre, iii. La galante (Olivier Baumont)
4. Busoni: Violin Sonata in e minor, Op.36a – X. Allegro (Gidon Kremer & Valery Afanassiev)
5. Elgar: Cello Concerto in e minor, Op.85 ii. LentoAllegro molto (André Navarra, vc; Hallé Orchestra; Sir Jn Barbirolli)
6. Zappa: "What's New in Baltimore?" from You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, vol. 5
7. Prokofiev: Piano Sonata № 4 in c minor, Op.29 – ii. Andante assai (Matti Raekallio)
8. Elmore James: "Something Inside Me" from The Sky Is Crying
9. The Beatles:  "Old Brown Shoe" from Past Masters, vol.2
10. The Talking Heads:  "Psycho Killer" from Talking Heads: 77
11. Artie Matthews:  "Pastime Rag № 3" from Gershwin: The Piano Rolls vol.2
12. Genesis:  "Counting Out Time" from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
13. Sibelius:  Violin Concerto in d minor, Op.47 – ii. Adagio di molto (Gidon Kremer, vn; Philharmonia Orchestra; Riccardo Muti)
14. Ginastera:  String Quartet № 3, Op.40 – v. Di nuovo contemplativo (Ensō Quartet & Lucy Shelton)
15. Shostakovich: Symphony № 3 in Eb, Op.20 – "The First of May" (Prague Philharmonic Chorus; Prague Symphony Orchestra; Maksim Dmitriyevich)
16. Mannheim Steamroller: "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear"
17. Zappa: "The Dog Breath Variations" (live) from You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, vol. 2 (The Helsinki Concert)
18. Frescobaldi:  Toccata avanti la Messa della Domenica from Fiori musicali (Roberto Lorregian)
19. Ginastera:  Obertura para el « Fausto » criollo, Op.9 (Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Josep Pons)
20. Zappa: "Satumaa (Finnish Tango)" from You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, vol. 2 (The Helsinki Concert)
21. JS Bach:  Chorale, « Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr » BWV 662 (Helmut Walcha)
22. Captain Beefheart:  "Dachau Blues" from Trout Mask Replica
23. F. Couperin: 3ème Ordre, i. La ténébreuse, allemande (Olivier Baumont)
24. Zappa & The Mothers:  "Strictly Genteel (The Finale)" Soundtrack to « 200 Motels »
25. F. Couperin: 2ème Ordre, xvii. Les idées heureuses (Olivier Baumont)
26. D. Scarlatti: Sonata in E, K.381 (Pieter-Jan Belder)
27. Shostakovich:  Cordelia's Ballad from King Lear (Liudmila Shkirtil, mezzo & Yuri Serov, piano)
28. Haydn:  String Quartet in D, Op.64 № 5 « The Lark » – ii. Adagio. Cantabile (Amadeus Quartet)
29. Daryl Hall & Robt Fripp:  "The Farther Away I Am" from Sacred Songs
30. Shostakovich: e minor Prelude & Fugue, Op.87 № 4 (Olli Mustonen)
Following the Shostakovich Third as it did, the Mannheim Steamroller arrangement sounded particularly wooden.
Wonderful to have two Couperin numbers sandwiching in the finale of 200 Motels.
Out of the blue like this, the 'song' from the midst of the Ginastera third quartet especially shone.

08 February 2012

And now . . . .

1. Led Zeppelin: "I Can't Quit You, Babe" from Led Zeppelin
2. JS Bach: Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. I – a minor Fugue from BWV 865 (Sergei Schepkin, piano)
3. Bartók: String Quartet № 6, Sz. 114 i. MestoVivace (Emerson Quartet)
4. Beatles: "Her Majesty" from Abbey Road
5. Vaughan Williams: Symphony 6, iii. Scherzo Allegro vivace (London Phil, Haitink)
6. Prokofiev: Piano Sonata 5, i. Allegro tranquillo (Matti Raekallio)
7. Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, iv. Elegia Andante non troppo (LSO, Doráti)
8. D. Scarlatti: Sonata in G, K455 (Pieter-Jan Belder)
9. Bartók: String Quartet № 6, Sz. 114 ii. MestoMarcia (Emerson Quartet)
10. Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin, Op.19 / Sz. 73 – Introduction: Allegro (LSO, Doráti)
11. Haydn: String Quartet in Eb, Op.76 6 ii. Fantasia. Adagio (Quatuor Mosaïques)
12. Shostakovich: Symphony 10 in e minor, Op.93 i. Moderato (London Phil, Haitink)
13. JS Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 – Aria (Christiane Jaccottet, harpsichord)
14. Doc & Merle Watson: "Mississippi Heavy Water Blues" from Pickin' the Blues
15. 10cc: "The Worst Band in the World" from Sheet Music
16. Doc & Merle Watson: "Blue Railroad Train" from Pickin' the Blues
17. Shostakovich: g minor Prelude & Fugue, Op.87 22 (Tatiana Nikolayeva)
18. The Bobs: "Killer Bees" from Songs for Tomorrow Morning
19. Gesualdo: Tenebrae, Nocturnus III: Tradiderunt me in manus impiorum (A Sei Voci)
20. Chicago: "Another Rainy Day in New York City" from Chicago X
21. F. Couperin: Troisième Prélude en sol mineur, from L'Art de toucher le clavecin (Olivier Baumont)
22. Zappa: "Peaches en Regalia" from Hot Rats
23. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Op.22 17 – Poetico (Olli Mustonen)
24. Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Op.22 1 – Lentamente (Eteri Andjaparidze)
25. Ravel: Trio in a minor – iii. Passacaille (Nash Ensemble)
26. The Talking Heads: "Once in a Lifetime" from Remain in Light


Seen on-line, from Our Man in Watertown:

The funny thing is that [Woody] Allen is a genuine practitioner with the attitudes of a cultural tourist getting his art ticket punched.

04 February 2012

Overnight soundtrack

1. Pink Floyd: “Lucifer Sam” from Piper at the Gates of Dawn
2. D. Scarlatti: Sonata in D, K335 (Pieter-Jan Belder, fortepiano)
3. Al Di Meola, Jn McLoughlin & Paco de Lucia: “Guardian Angel” from Friday Night in San Francisco
4. Beethoven: Violin Sonata № 6 in A, Op.30 № 1, i. Allegro (Gidon Kremer & Martha Argerich)
5. Jethro Tull: “Fat Man” from 20 Years of Jethro Tull (Radio Archives & Rarities)
6. Genesis: “Mama” from Genesis
7. Prokofiev: Suite from Cinderella, Op.87 – viii. Valse (Martha Argerich & Mikhail Pletnev)
8. Stevie Wonder: “Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)” from Songs in the Key of Life
9. Chicago: “Just You ’n’ Me” from Chicago VI
10. JS Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV988 – Variation II (Christiane Jaccottet)
11. Vaughan Williams: “Great Than Stars or Suns” from the fourth movement of A Sea Symphony (Haitink, London Phil &al.)
12. Prokofiev: Piano Concerto № 2 in g minor, Op.16 – i. AndantinoAllegretto (Michel Béroff, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Masur)
13. Captain Beefheart: “Sugar ’n’ Spikes” from Trout Mask Replica

Voice from the past

This week, I had a nice chat on the phone with one of my musical mentors from back when, fellow who led the choir at St Michael’s when I was in high school. So many fond musical memories of those days! I’ve now sent him a recording of the Passion.

It was listening to some Tallis settings of Canticles traditionally used in the Anglican order of service which triggered seeing his face in my mind’s eye, and then (not unexpectedly) came the sharp thought that a very long time has passed since we were in touch.

The visit down the halls of memory brought home the realization that, whatever I may be presently as a composer of sacred choral music (Disclaimer*: not that that’s all that I compose, of course), part of it I owe to this kindly mentor from Back When.

*Disclaimer necessary lest I be marginalized in the Sacred Choral Music ghetto

02 February 2012


Not sure where this originated; a neighbor posted it at an on-line community:

C, Eb, and G go into a bar. The bartender says, Sorry, but we don't serve minors. So Eb leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished, and G is out flat.

It goes on from there, although I wonder if there are not (ahem) diminishing returns.