30 March 2019

The castle remains unquiet

From 30 July 2018:

For the first order of business with A Heart So White is, to review the fixed media as it stands, and see if it suffices for the pace of dramatic performance of the scene.  I have been morally prepared for the possibility that the fixed media may require some expansion.

Skip to 30 March, 2019:

For one thing, it has always lacked dramatically proper knocks for Wake Duncan with thy knocking; I would thou could'st.

An entirely novel idea (I think) came to me last night for another layer, which will not crowd out the present texture; and I have made that addition today, and I am well pleased with the result.

Now, or, soon, to find my recorder and see about some knocking.

Trio entr'acte

Once Yesterday's Snow was finished (as it needs to be, for a May performance), and before I set to proper work on the Swiss Skis,  it was time to think about Easter. My enormously supportive church choir and organist, some of the dearest people I know, have been keeping my spot warm, and we have planned the beginning of my return to duties for Palm Sunday and Easter, and so, I wanted to mark the return with a new piece for my handbell choir, which I composed on the 16th and 17th of March.

and 17

28 March 2019

Swimming With Stravinsky

So, I dreamt I was in Switzerland, and seeing Stravinsky's face in a window, I entered the house, walked up a short flight of steps, knocked on the door, and Vera asked me in. I warmly greeted the master, told him that compositionally, I felt he was like a father to me, and we went for a swim in a lake.

Sure on Tuesday afternoon, I posted that I was unsure on which of two pieces I wanted to resume work;  but then, Tuesday evening, I set to changing the setting of the first two lines of the scene, according to notes that were floating around in my inner ear; and I modified the composition of the accompanying live ensemble, to C flute, alto flute, horn and violin.

26 March 2019

Back to the Future, or, What's Next?

I have two works-in-hiatus (Not counting White Nights) which now loom into my present consideration: A Heart So White, the dramatic scena for two female singers, live instruments and fixed media, and The Heart, the second movement of Karl’s Big (But Happily Incomplete) Map to the Body.
So, cardio, in either event.
At one point last year,I did start work (not yet diligently) on the voice lines of A Heart So White, but I feel I want to start completely afresh there.

As with Yesterday's Snow and Swiss Skis, The Heart is a project I turned around in my mind while I was in hospital.

I have not yet decided which heart to pursue first.

25 March 2019

The Final and True Swiss Skis

Now, about what in yesterday's post I was calling Trio #1, the companion piece to Oxygen Footprint for Ensemble Aubade.
As reported, the first idea which formed was a swinging-ish pentatonic figure, which at first, in "raw" form, I simply heard the flute and viola playing in octaves. At first I thought it might be the opening of and principal material for the piece; but as I began to scribble on paper, I was not getting it into suitable shape.
I did not, however feel that the material was at all unworkable, only that I had not yet discovered how I really wanted to work it.
As with Yesterday's Snow, there was music to which I was listening regularly whose organization and character began to inform my work, even though my piece sounds nothing like the "organizational inspiration," in this case, Miles Davis, In a Silent Way. To break it out roughly,I thought of my trio as "bass" (the harp) "rhythmic tattoo" (the viola, starting the piece out with the repeated thirds which I stole from the paired flutes in my original musical conception of what became Yesterday's Snow). and "insouciant solo" (the flute)

About the harp part: I felt that, rhythmically, I did not want to  make it too regular, but that not-quite-regular (in the spirit of Triadic Memories) would be just right. pitch-wise, I made a bit of a game of leaving the harp in "white-key" setting for much of the piece, generating harmonic interest by the tension between the harp and the single-line instruments, and making only minimal pedal adjustments.
When it seemed to me right to incorporate the dancing, jazzy, pentatonic material, I worked with it much more freely, in terms of imitation, and pitch-level, than I had had in mind originally.
The Opus 161 was substantially finished on 19 March;
I finished the piano version (Opus 161a) on 23 March.

24 March 2019

A chicken and Her Egg

While I was yet in hospital, I began mental work on two trios; their several stories are intertwined, and in my attempt to untwist them, let me call them Trio #1 and Trio #2.
Peter H. Bloom returned from Ensemble Aubade's tour of the southeast and regaled me with highly gratifying reports of how exceptionally enthusiastic was the audiences' reception of Oxygen Footprint.
When we first talked about the prospect of the Footprint, we left open the possibility of more than one piece.
So, when I learnt what a success the Ensemble had had with the first piece, I was determined to write a new companion piece.
My inner ear began playing around with a dancing, jazzy pentatonic figure bandied between the flute and viola: the first germ of Trio #1 (flute, viola and harp).

As reported in this blog post, when my friends and colleagues of The k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble, including Peter, rallied 'round with their resolve to assemble a program to perform at King's Chapel in May, I knew I wanted to write a new piece for two flutes and horn; and I soon had an idea of repeated notes in the flutes at and around the interval of a third, and this was the inception of Trio #2, which I originally thought I might title Swiss Skis; however, both that musical idea, and the title would be transferred to Trio #1.

To have music ready to rehearse in April for a May program, I set to work on Trio #2 first, and I began serious work on it on March the first. At the time, I was listening to Triadic Memories nightly; thus, even though the character of my piece does not really resemble the piano piece, the musical unputs for my new trio were steeped in a Feldman stew. It will come as no surprise, then, that it was immediately apparent that the musical character of the flutes/horn trio did not at all suit the putative title (Swiss Skis)The piece is instead called Yesterday's Snow. And I finished it by the Ides of March.

And the further tale of Trio #1 must wait until tomorrow.


20 March 2019

Of King's Sans Choux

Gentle Reader, if you have followed my musical activity over time (and you may have) you likely know that, courtesy of the most gracious Heinrich Christensen, it is my pleasure to perform Henningmusick, usually, twice yearly on the lunchtime concert series at King's Chapel. You may possibly even have noted that I have generally begun planning in February for the spring concert date. Even in my convalescence, as I look forward eagerly to an eventual return to normal activity, musical & otherwise, I kept in view the fact that Heinrich is expecting a musical program from me.
What to do? Since I shall not be in any condition to perform, so soon.

My generous and gracious colleagues have been determined that there will be a show, whose date is 14 May, and we have planned (but not yet decided on the final order of) the program.
After a hiatus in production (other than the necessary hiatus of my medical adventure) driven by the demise of a laptop, I arranged one of These Unlikely Events for two flutes, and arranged Zen on the Wing for two flutes and horn. I also intended a new trio, about which, more later.
And Pam Marshall is providing three pieces, two of them brand new, for one of which I shall play a brass bowl.
The time is near, when we should arrange a rehearsal schedule.

19 March 2019

The slow restart

Courtesy of keyboardist & composer David Bohn, who called for toy piano pieces of a hundred notes or fewer. I got back in the composing saddle with light duty I finished Penny Candy 27 February;  I added it to the catch-all Sheaf of Bliss, and so it is designated Opus 137 # 6.

I think we may be able to consider this the revival of the blog.