28 June 2022

Lungs Now Neatly Laid Out. Thoughts on the new trios

There was something on the chair that night
the eggs were white, Fernando ....

As reported here, I completed composition of The Lungs a little more than a year ago. It was only this past week.  I suppose I was motivated by the positive tone of my 12 June encounter with Matt Marsit.

Separately, I've been somewhat immersed in both Bicycling Into the Sun (Feel the Burn) and Swiss Skis (the new ieces for Ensemble Aubade) for a couple of weeks now. My feeling about Skis is that it is something of a pastoral second movement, contrasting with the bravura of Oxygen Footprint  as a first mvt. And Bicycling is the closing gigue, which itself dissolves into a broad quasi-timeless coda in something of a Stravinskyan manner. In some sense, Swiss Skis springs from my harpsichord/violin duo, Plotting, which my old friend Gene Barnes characterized as "L'Histoire du Soldat" on steroids. For Skis, the viola takes something of the lead in a quasi-concertante rôle. There's an implacable quiet intensity in the 'A' material which I think one of the better things I've created. My sense is that when the violist digs in, the sparks will fly. I admit, too, to simply enjoying the misleadingly carefree tone at the start of Bicycling. And I consider the sparse exoticism of the coda (the Sun into which we've bicycled?) an especially felicitous invention. Sure, there must be an element of pride, in the accomplishment of composing both pieces soon after my discharge from rehab. But insofar as I can separate myself from the urge to pat myself on the back, I'm warmly enthusiastic about both pieces on (I believe) their musical merits.



13 March 2022

The Makings of a Nice Weekend

 I went to concerts Friday and Saturday night, and in addition to hearing lovely music, I got to catch up with six musicians with whom I have collaborated in the past. Saturday morning I thought (out of the blue) of a piece I wrote some 12 years ago: Angular Whimsies (Heavy Paint Manipulation) for bass clarinet and percussion (vibes & bongos, 1 player) [did Caleb and Ariana ever actually play it?—only the Universe knows for sure] as well as a quirky bagatelle, Airy Distillates for flute solo which I wrote for a flutist who has definitely never played it. Triad dress rehearsal tomorrow, for our concerts this coming Saturday & Sunday. And it is really time to have music ready to rehearse for our 19 April concert at King's Chapel.



A Rough Time

 Although, Reality Check: I'm not in Ukraine. I appreciate that fact.

The backdrop: I met the director of a local ensemble some 46 mos. ago. I thought it was a good conversation. He never responds to my attempts to communicate. While I am open to contrary arguments, I just do not think I am quite that much of an asshole. Of course, one makes allowances for both the pandemic, and the fact that he has since become a father. But this freeze-out dates from earlier still.

So, today the ensemble performed a concert, I figure, I'll go to the concert and simply pick up a live dialogue. Honestly, I would have trod very lightly (I just want to talk with the bloke.) I reserve a ride to deliver me to the address I was given of the performance venue. We arrive at the address, but there does not appear to be anything like an auditorium nearby.  It's perhaps 28° and breezy, but I let the driver drop me off, as I suppose that it must be nearby. Well it was not. I walk up and down the Parkway, but nothing lie a concert venue do I find.  I wound up taking shelter in a department store anchoring a shopping mall. I thought I had the phone number of a friend who is a member of the ensemble, but I was mistaken. Not that this would have been any help, since he would have been about to go on stage, and would not have been in any position to offer aid. At any rate, giving the afternoon up for a total irredeemable loss, I called an Uber vehicle, and am now at home.

07 February 2022

Réfléchisson du jour

Not for all the cauliflower in the caliphate.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

We are full of rhythms . . . our pulse, our gestures, our digestive tracts, the lunar and seasonal cycles.

— Yehudi Menuhin

So, in October, I did not feel like writing, and (as it was such a novelty for me) I felt that I needed to say so. Now I can state that I feel like writing again, and also, I feel that I have learnt/absorbed a new lesson from my stroke.

I suppose that I have decided that I want to keep writing, and that I should do so, uncaring whether or not the damned universe notices. But I have decided (per Yehudi Menuhin’s observation above) to let my composition rhythm be itself (possibly irregular) and not to push myself. When I have motivation (internal or external) I shall welcome and honor it.

At the time when my life was changed by my stroke I pushed myself to be a good and conscionable office monkey. I hoped that I might at last earn enough to be able to afford (for instance) to buy a house in which we might live, here where my work was. That hope was ill-founded and quite possibly foolish. Knowing this, I can let it go. The universe lavishes riches and opportunities upon others, but not on me. This is not bitterness, and it feels great to acknowledge this small truth in my life, and move on as I can.



26 January 2022

Inching Forward

When I happened to overhear the phrase “generic popsicles,” earlier today, it wasn’t so much what the young lady said, as the way she said it.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

A created thing is never invented and it is never true: it is always and ever itself.

— Federico Fellini

the Symphony № 3 is inching along, which I like just fine. Back in October, when I left the score to rest on the shelf, I had an idea for m. 165ff. but I could not then discover the execution I wanted (meseems my thought was clouded in part by uncertainty that mm. 145-164 were quite what I wanted there. My doubts on that head were (I think now) simply unnecessary. Anyway, today I found just what I wanted for that conceptual passage, and now the piece runs 9 minutes.

Unless the evolving situation with the pandemic forces a change in Triad’s plans to sing concerts on 19 and 20 March, When will in fact be performed then.

Much as I love Miklós Rózsa’s score for Double Indemnity, of course, part of me wants to say that my favorite moment is when the Schubert Unfinished becomes the soundtrack of Fred MacMurray realizing that he has been a tool all along.

A good friend just posted that he solved today Wordle in two tries; he adds: That’ll never happen again. I realized today that it’s the perfect game for Americans...getting the right answer makes you feel proud of your accomplishment, but how well you succeed is largely determined by how lucky you are at the beginning.

I replied: The few times I’ve tried, luck was not with me, so I’ve decided that whenever a friend posts Wordle success, I’m going to celebrate by composing five measures of new music.

Sketches of Igor Fyodorovich’s for Petrushka:



25 January 2022

On Tiptoe

Proactive napping: Lethargy Therapy.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is not really an occasion for fanfare, so leave us proceed simply. As I reported earlier, I found myself in a place unusual for me, in feeling no motivation to compose. So, I did no composing proper for some 15 weeks. It was simply not feeling like writing, I was not anxious about the condition, nor did I feel it would be at all permanent. The last work I did on the Symphony № 3 was on 4 October, when the piece ran to almost seven minutes. My evening’s relaxation last night led to enjoying a commentary upon All About Eve, mostly by the son of writer-director Jos. L. Mankiewicz. The thought of resuming low-key work on the Opus 175 had been in mind for (say) a couple of weeks) so it was unusual in the first place, that I actually set to some work, and doubly unusual in my deciding to set to work as late in the day as 11:30 PM. I did a little tinkering, and then put up the shop and hit the hay. I’ve done some more work today, and the piece runs eight minutes at this point. Making no promises, but perhaps I’ll work on it some more tomorrow.