19 December 2015

The 13 Days of Zappaness: Day 4

(I am embracing non-contiguous days.)

Day 4, “Naval Aviation in Art?” (from Läther)

18 December 2015


Still catching my breath.

To-do list this weekend:

1. Video for the 21 November Triad concert

2. Video & audio documents of the HTUMC Christmas concert

3. ... Holding a Phone...? Things Like Bliss?  Guitar solo?

No urgency to 3., as a Christmas respite does approach.

15 December 2015

The 13 Days of Zappaness: Day 3

Day 3, “Marche royale” from Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat (from Make a Jazz Noise Here)

14 December 2015

The 13 Days of Zappaness: Day 2

Day 2, “Call Any Vegetable” (from Absolutely Free)

13 December 2015

9 of 15

(song no. 9)

a green the shade of new leaf
on the maple in april
the indefinable blue
of late autumn sky
reflected in cayuga
the sparkling grey in your eyes
when i return home

the unfailing invention

of the mockingbird’s song
so natural, so unaffected
that first you hear and then listen
the bubbling coo of the turtle
as she pecks through the black shells
the love in your voice
as you offer me some tea

(... color)

Music ho! and The 13 Days of Zappaness: Day 1

Henningmusick this morning and afternoon on the North Shore.  More on which, hereafter.

But for now, let the Zappaness roll!

Day 1, “Orange County Lumber Truck” (from Weasels Ripped my flesh)

12 December 2015

10 of 15

(song no. 10)

she doesn’t have a cat
so she stencils paw-prints
on the floor the paint brown
like the mud which in fact
she is glad the cat she doesn’t have
doesn’t track
she pulls out her phone
so words float like stars
on a still pool
sunfish dart
beneath the stars

not poetry but studies for poetry
an insistent inability to set pencil to paper
spurred by the vague desire
to record racing thoughts
there are letters you drop into slots
even though you don’t understand the signs

eternally misrehearsing a phone number
few or none of the buttons look right
turn off the moonlight
dial quickly
scattering the sunfish

before i awoke to your white night
and could brush my hair in the blues of your eyes
i saw mirrors in icicles surrounding my sunglasses
i answered a knock at the border with incorrect papers
i wrapped the cast on my arm in a plastic bag
to join men i didn’t know in a country sauna
i sank into a subway though i couldn’t see bottom

she gave me a photograph
from the future of a kitten
the cat has a young girl
you can see in the girl’s eyes
she is thinking of the cat
and even (possibly) of me
(there’s that look in her eyes)

you can see in the cat’s eyes
the girl & the photographer are less
than the sunfish trying the phone
she’s disconnected

deep in the background
in the cat’s paw you can see

(... casual paintbrushes)

For the Kammerwerke folks

Composer's thoughts on the composition of The Young Lady Holding a Phone in Her Teeth, Op.130 (work-in-progress as of 12 Dec 2015)

The piece begins, first of all, with punctuative unisons (cl/bn, m.1), an idea {a} which soon expands to repeated notes (cl/bn, m.3ff.), itself a musical idea {a1} which expands by breaking up the unison (fl/cl, m.7).  This first section plays out as a sort of textural tension between the "uniting" notion of the {a} material, and parallel activity of ebulliently free counterpoint (cl I & hn II, in rhythmically and intervalically varied inversion) {b}.

At rehearsal mark [A], this textural tension continues, but favoring imitative expansion of the {b} idea(s), and the repeated-note {a1}.

Rehearsal mark [B] sets off a sort of "summary fugato," culminating first in a dense chord on the repeated-note idea (pickup to m.39) and a return to the punctuative B-flats (m.42).

Rehearsal mark [C] is essentially a unison tune {b1?} in octaves, traded off in relay, "accompanied" by a development of the {a} punctuation.

That yields in turn to a sort of chorale at [D] which takes the pitch word established by the piece and converts it to sustained stillness.

Rehearsal mark [E] returns us to the rhythmic activity, a development of {a} employed as an accompaniment to a playful duet in the clarinets.  This slows down to the modal arioso at [F].

Rehearsal mark [H] is a new developmental expansion of {a}.

This gives way to an inverted imitation game between the oboes at rehearsal mark [J], upon which the horns break in by leaving off their sustained background (m.198, e.g.) to suggest a complementary, broader-rhythmed counterpoint of their own (m.201ff.), and the upshot is the tender ob/hn/bn trio (with occasional clarinet disruptions) at rehearsal mark [K].

Rehearsal mark [L] is clear (I think) if brief recapitulation, leading to a horn fanfare at rehearsal mark [M].

Rehearsal mark [N] is a thickened, augmented variation of the unison tune from [C], and in fact a near-literal recap of [C] gets under way shortly after [O].  There is a solo clarinet insistence on this material after [P].

Rehearsal mark [Q] is a new, ethereal chorale, which (I think) rather cleverly manages to morph into a sneaky reference to the "modal sarabande" from [F].

That is the piece so far;  I envision about two minutes remaining, and employing various subtle re-workings or re-enactments of the material already inherent to the piece.

11 December 2015

11 of 15

(song no. 11)

while it was raining
and while the droplets were still few
we found the edge of the pond
in a clearing past tall oaks
the smooth stones at pond’s bottom
offered no footing
so we squatted in the shallow water
cool and the air not much warmer

floating in the cool pond gave me
the fleeting impression
that i was big as the pond
that my fingertips could touch
the far shore
my arms outstretched
the ducks and geese
took to the air
stepping off my wrists

the bark of a distant dog
and the clap of nearing thunder
and we rushed
as fast as the slippery stones would permit
to the towels and the clothes kept dry
and after a while
we left the curious trail of ducklings
behind on the rain-speckled pond

(... summer swim)

Now, where were we?

So, really I ought to catch the blog up on all the composition which went on while the blog slept. And that is not something to be managed in a single post.

For the present, a relatively timely item:

Today is the deadline for a call for orchestral scores; it was the perfect fit (from this senator's standpoint) for Discreet Erasures. My materials were all sent in and received two weeks ago. At present, that's all there is to say about that.

Very good penultimate rehearsal last night with my HTUMC choir;  we had the flutist and violinist with us for the first time. It was a long-ish and reasonably hard-working rehearsal;  spirits were good, and we got much good work done. A few things that still want fixing (some of which, I thought had already been in good repair), but then, that's why we still have the Dress Rehearsal proper at 11 Sunday.

10 December 2015

12 of 15

(song no. 12)

i am singing
because the brightness of the stars tonight
would shame me
if i kept silence

i am singing
because the wind is so crisp
and the air is so clean
that with all my being
i feel that the song from out my lips
must be pure as well

i am singing
for if i did not give thanks
for our family
for our love
for the joy we share in creating
and for holding your hand —
if i do not give thanks for these
i do not deserve them

i am singing
to give thanks
to the giver of song

(... thanksgiving night air)

serif of nottingblog: The 22nd Annual Hamilton Literary Awards and a Joke: Moon Baboon Canoe Nooz

serif of nottingblog: The 22nd Annual Hamilton Literary Awards and a Joke: Moon Baboon Canoe Nooz

For those who may have wondered what Hamilton has been up to, lo, these 22 years. I've told Gary that, technically, I could be yet more pleased, only I should probably have to file for an extension.

09 December 2015

13 of 15

(song no. 13)

without asking whether i deserved it
i found myself writing
a song to the dawn
without opening the backdoor
i knew there would be peanut shells
on the back landing
and i thought of my wife’s easel
and the canvas resting on it
the canvas a living thing
in the way that it would change
and grow in response to the love
she applies to it through brush and paint

i put the kettle on
knowing i would need to turn the flame
quickly down
lest its whistle awake my love from her dreams
dream on my sweet
dream that we are walking along the pond’s edge
dream that the bread falls from our hands
towards the impatient geese
dream of the wisps of cloud
reflected in the pond’s surface

my song to dawn is a song
of my beloved’s rest
as i knot my necktie
and patiently await
the pouring of hot water over teabag
joy at the work she has done
at her easel yesterday
joy at the work she will give
herself to later this day
a song of thanks to dawn
for the new day
and more peanuts tossed gladly
to the jays and squirrels

a song of the play of glancing sunlight
falling among the new leaves
as though light were a thing
newly invented by boyish laughter
a song
of the proud tall birch’s shimmering leaves
trembling in the gentle morning breeze

a song of thanksgiving
a holiday to be celebrated
at all times and in all seasons
and always outdoors
did i think all these things
when i opened the backdoor
baring my soul and opening my eyes
to spring in the yard
or did all these beautiful things
think me?
my heart stirs at the whispered sounds
of morning quiet
dare i drown it out with my oafish noise?
i put the flame out
underneath the readied kettle
the steam-scent of jasmine tea
it seemed i smelt it with my eyes
did i think these things
or did they come to me
rising from the painted ceramic mug?
shall i drink this tea?
and should i not strive to become
one of spring’s finer thoughts?

i breathed in
great draughts of the morning air
and the rich scent of fresh grass
and the second flush of maple blossom

(... aubade)

Somewhere in the middle

The day before yesterday was the anniversary of the surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor;  so I watched 1941.

Yesterday was Jean Sibelius's 150th birthday;  so I listened to Luonnotar.

In four days my church choir will sing a Christmas concert;  so yesterday I made copies of most of "the little stuff" for the concert folder (the carols with which the audience will sing along, e.g.)  The only items missing were The Friendly Beasts (not sure why I didn't have soft copy of that) and our "sneaky encore," the Christmas Round.  I have those ready to send to the printer this morning.

08 December 2015

14 of 15

(song no. 14)

many teach that life
is a succession of blank pages
and that the history of man
is a matter of writing the pages over

of these
some teach that the goal is
that all the pages be written over
with all manner of things
so that when the last trumpet sounds
we may know the number
of the pages

but the wise teach the true goal

that all the pages
howsoever great their number
be written over with the same thing
every last one
until the writing on all life's pages
is the same

and the writing is love

(... parable of the pages)

Home (Triad II)

Audio for the 23 November concert of Triad's second program, Home, is up at SoundCloud, including an exquisite performance of Nuhro.

More about this later, too.

15 of 15

(song no. 15)

as to some rare concert
we listened to the rainfall
at first it tapped out
the march of time
until she took her mother’s clock away
smothering time in blankets

the rainfall said
i know i got up late and all
is it really still just today
or a brighter tomorrow already

i could listen more closely
after she trimmed my beard

i thought i heard the rain say
how about some tea
seems it might have been
my wife

for all the flowers on the table
i couldn’t get to the kettle
helpless i watched it boil
steam falling up to the sky

(... chopin on majorca)

07 December 2015

Two years ago today

I was at work on Plotting (y is the new x).

Yesterday, an excellent if long (in preparation for next week's concert) rehearsal with the handbell choir.  I had clean forgot that we are going to include my Musette . . . I need to get a copy into the conductor's folder . . . .

06 December 2015

Divers reflections

Curious to consider now, but four years ago today was the first time I listened to “Papa's” String Quartet in g minor, Op.74 № 3 “The Rider” (Hob.III/74) (played by The Amadeus Quartet).

And my own motet Love is the Spirit was premièred six years ago today.

05 December 2015

Last Christmas

At last, I have audio from the Holy Trinity United Methodist Church music program's concert of 14 Dec 2014 available.

The centerpiece of the concert is Sweetest Ancient Cradle Song, a single-movement cantata for choir, brass quintet & organ I originally wrote for First Congo in Woburn's music director, the late Bill Goodwin.

More of this concert later.

04 December 2015

henningmusick: And?…

henningmusick: And?…

Four years ago today!  Funny thing is, I had to rummage about the blog to understand myself that I was writing about These Unlikely Events.

03 December 2015


First full rehearsal after Turkey Day, and 10 days to the concert. On the docket: the Opp. 52a & 53a, and hopefully even a read-through of the Op.126 N° 7.

Remembering with gratification how I composed through to the end of From the Pit of a Cave in the Cloud, this past Labor Day weekend.

Everything for the concert should already be settled, so there is the odd chance I may be able to attend to finishing The Young Lady Holding a Phone in Her Teeth this weekend. We shall see.

02 December 2015

Scofflaw Monologue

It's dark
There were gotcha questions
She smiled as she walked along
the aisle of an undeniably cold bus
She asked (of no one in particular)
"Why can't all motion be agreeable?"
It was dark
It isn't that he clung to hope
Whatever the external pressures for hope
his own relationship to that construct had long since become
a matter of comfort and ease
It was dark
Yet he did not cling to hope so much as
there's a chair at the kitchen table where hope had been sitting so long
he just didn't see any need now to displace it
There would be gotcha rhythms
Some motions kept him awake
some motions lulled him into rest
It wasn't necessarily an easy matter
distinguishing between the two classes of motion
She smiled as she sat down beside him on the bus
Her smile reminded him of hope at his kitchen table
a little
Why did the bus need to be so noisy?
He didn't know her
The smile was neighborly
He himself did not understand why unconsciously he thought
her name might be Hope
Not for the first time
he mistook the bus's motion
The rhythm is gonna getcha, she suggested
Not all rhythms are the same
he found it easy to elude most
he did not think it any talent
he supposed that most anyone could
Really it's always dark
he remembered some idiot remarking
While light grew in the east
The rhythm is gonna getcha, she teased
(And if you think it's a comfortable experience
being teased on a bus by someone you've not met before
you might think again.)
Gotcha rhythms
He sprang to the left
to a land of squares
Postage stamps
not all of them cancelled
Tea bag packets
Disjointed 64ths of some unfortunate chessboard
some black
some white
Possibly the least imaginative of crackers
The east grew lighter yet
He didn't know her
The rhythm is gonna getcha, she warned
He sprang up to a land of cream
Really it's always dark
You should probably never trust the one who benefits
from sparking the fears of another
He was in all respects a master of rhythm
In the world all around him
fresh and beguiling rhythms
are being created
Rhythm and complacency don't mix
The rhythm is gonna getcha, she promised
He got off the bus
Entering a world
somehow neither dark nor light

01 December 2015

While the turkey roasted

Posted on the eve of Thanksgiving:

I should hesitate to overcommit myself for this holiday weekend . . . I should at last post music from the HTUMC Christmas Concert; I need to prepare parts for the flute and violin for the upcoming Christmas Concert; I should break out the audio from both Triad concerts into tracks, and upload "teasers"; should decide if I really am going to arrange the Basque Carol for this Christmas Concert, and how;  definitely submitting my application for the American Composers Orchestra call; and I owe it to Jack to draw up at last a proper review of his magisterial Symphony № 2 « Ascendant » . . . but probably none of that until the bird is in the oven.

That's not a crazy to-do list;  but I am going to take it on the easy side, too.