23 July 2024

Out of Dreamland

Pre-apocalyptic eucalyptus.
The Noon Witch, or Prelude to the Afternoon of a Bewitched Faun.
Per Kevin Carubia ... “Thinking outside the box”: exactly what you do not want your cat doing.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Treat a work of art like a prince. Let it speak to you first.

— Arthur Schopenhauer.

It’s rare that I dream about composing, and rarer still that I wake up feeling that the music I just dreamt that I wrote will actually work in the waking world. I just dreamt I wrote the start of a Concertino for bass clarinet and orchestra. I remember enough detail to start notating it. This is genuinely exciting and uplifting and positive. That said and truly registered, I’m not writing it yet. Today I have the unsettling uncertainty of where I shall reside six months from now, so that my heart is not yet into composing anything new. And there is the borderline-crushing practical fact that nobody needs such a piece by this Henning, and I really do not have heart at present to create another large ensemble score just for the shelf. My shelf is sufficiently crowded at present.

22 July 2024

And Another Duo From Eight Years Since

”Cambridge Scientists Trace Aging of All Organisms to One Thing” Time? (Sorry—couldn't help myself.)
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

[Of ancient Greece]:The very poorest citizens had a chance to become President, but somehow they didn’t. It may have been just a coincidence.

— Will Cuppy, from The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody

I composed a flute duet, Neither Do I Condemn Thee, Opus 132 in October of 2015 for Duo Zonda, Wei Zhao & Orlando Cela, who received it with warm kindness, and moreover gave the work its  première at the Church of the Advent on 18 March, 2016. Attentive readers will perceive that this was the same concert whereon Peter H Bloom & I also performed.

21 July 2024

Eight Years Ago, Three Duos

My banking app, if you please, tells me, “I have new insights to show you.”
Where geese have been, a wise man watches his step.
C’est le Gruyère ... all we are saying is give cheese a chance!
The uncle dude unglued.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Art is a celebration of the fact that the most important things in our human lives might be invisible, intangible … and unmarketable.

— Stephen Hough

On 18 March of 2016, when there was still a concert series curated by flutist/composer Matt Samolis at the Church of the Advent in the Back Bay, Peter H Bloom and I performed the three duos of my Opus 97:

1. Heedless Watermelon
2. All the Birds in Mondrian’s Cage
3. Swivels ’n’ Bops

15 July 2024

A Pause

Idea for an accounting franchise: Whole Numbers
“Everything is dishwasher safe if you don’t care enough about it.”
Breakfast of fear: Dreaded Wheat
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

“I suppose this unfortunate fowl was born and brought up in a cellar," “ said my aunt, “and never took the air except on a Hackney coach-stand. I hope the steak may be beef, but I don’t believe it. Nothing’s genuine in the place, in my opinion, but the dirt.” “Don’t you think the fowl may have come out of the country, aunt?” I hinted.”"Certainly not,” returned my aunt. “It would be no pleasure to a London tradesman to sell anything which was what he pretended it was.”
— Chas Dickens, “David Copperfield”

What to do when you don’t know what to do, and feel unequal to creative work?

The past several posts have seen me revisit pieces I wrote however long ago, and which have failed as yet to be performed. There are more, of course. That, we might say, has been the trouble. 

11 July 2024

Sorting Out All the Bliss

All he wants to do is sing “all she wants to do is dance.”
Oh, yeah, this song goes on! Long after the thrill of hearing it is gone.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I think the acquisition of an understanding of irony is a step forward, not backwards

— The ever-dry Mr John Cleese

YouTube being one of a number of environments in which the search function is dodgy (I remain certain that I uploaded earlier a version of the Saltmarsh Stomp, but good luck finding it) if I search in a certain way on my channel, I see that in January of 2016, the piece freshly finished (it rather looks like I chopped the piece out on New Year's Day), I was sufficiently enthused to upload three versions of Things Like Bliss: what I then called the original version (version 1) was the four-minute Ur-text. As I wrote here, I came to like the piece longer, and so it seems that the original version 2 was the nine-minute result, and on adapting the piece for flute, I dubbed that version 2.1. It looks very much like I prepared another adaptation with mandocello (which suggests that at the time I was still hoping for a Ninth Ear performance) but we’ll leave that curiosity in its apparent evaporation. For my own satisfaction, and for clarification, leave us reboot the matter thus: Let the four-minute version remain a buried fossil. I pronounce the newly-completed clarinet and harp scoring Version 1, Opus 137 № 1. I shall presently apply myself to the alto flute, viola and harp adaptation for Ensemble Aubade, which will bear the designation Version 2, Opus 137 № 1b. And the luckless clarinet, two guitar and double-bass scoring will be Version 3, Opus 137 № 1a. And there the Things Like Bliss shall stand, or rather, lounge peacefully. I shall write about other Opus 137 matters another time.

10 July 2024

The New Face of Bliss

Loose, wordy, and not of the modern world. I may possibly have a negative side, too.
It cannot be helped. I never noticed until today that one anagram for “pedestrian” is “deep strain.”
“I just think that Catholic spokesmen should hesitate and reflect before calling anything they disapprove of, ‘a trap for the gullible’.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

We all sat down [...] and looked at one another in a friendly but rather awkward way. It was the first practical trial of our theories of equal brotherhood and sisterhood; and we people of superior cultivation (for as such, I presume, we unhesitatingly reckoned ourselves) felt as if something were already accomplished towards the millennium of love. The truth is, however, that the laboring oar was with our unpolished companions; it being far easier to condescend than to accept of condescension.

— Nathaniel Hawthorne, from The Blithedale Romance

Earlier, I spoke of a rabbithole of re-scoring Things Like Bliss.I can happily report that this was an undue exaggeration. I may explain at another time how I fell into that misprision, or then again, I may not. As reported erewhile, the original 2016 scoring was for clarinet, two guitars and de minimis contrabass. It seems that I then made an adaptation for flute, for my friend and colleague Peter H. Bloom. Why? I’m quite puzzled by that myself, as (impractical as it proved for me to assemble a brace of guitarists) I do not think it was ever particularly likely that Peter would collect so many guitarists instead, or either. Today I pushed on and finished the clarinet/harp retrofit, although I need to proof the harp part (particularly the bass clef, as pasting into different voices sometimes yields odd typographic artifacts. I think the odds are good that I attend to clean-up tomorrow, ahead of PT on Friday. As I was coming into the home stretch today, I thought should I prepare a version for viola? Now, before we leap to the accusation of reflexive unnecessary version proliferation, a real vice to which I am historically susceptible, which is partly why I thought there were more versions of Bliss than in fact, the viola thought inspired the very happy prospect of a practical adaptation: fl/va/hp for Ensemble Aubade. I believe this is the ticket, in being a version—the version—which will at last result in an actual performance.

09 July 2024

Bliss Redux

In general, I suppose I agree in part that hymns need to be modernized. So I wish to offer my latest sacred music effort, “Jesus paid it all, but he opted for the 30-month, no-money-down plan all the same.” Nuance is what you scorn until someone else’s brush is too broad for you. What do you suppose the adjective “professional” signifies on a roll of toilet tissue?
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

"Five years ago, I was a four-stone apology. To-day, I am two separate gorillas."

— The late, great Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in “Mister Apollo,”
a parody of bodybuilder Charles Atlas, né Angelo Siciliano.

As reported here, I have undertaken to re-score Things Like Bliss (originally for clarinet in A, two guitars and de minimis double-bass) for clarinet and harp. I have always thought fondly of the piece. Let us stipulate that at the outset. Possibly because of my present unsettled situation, in the back of my mind I have run hot and cold (or warm and cold, anyway) on the task of adaptation. I have nevertheless chipped away at the work. I am now at roughly measure 171 (of 416) and if (my unwavering affection for the piece notwithstanding) my apparent lack of real enthusiasm in the present work means that I am indifferent as to when I may finish, I embrace the fact that there is no need to rush or press.

04 July 2024

A Plot Which I Lost and I Don't Seem to Mind

Pure chance, I am sure, that I saw these two posts in succession: “Anyone who just bites into a KitKat bar without first separating the pieces has got some serious problems.”
“There’s always work that needs to be done, even on a holiday.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it will get you the right ones.

— John Lennon

In researching the matter here on the bog, I see that I composed Things Like Bliss in January of 2016, and before very long was already re-scoring it. Per this post's headline, it was apparently so considerable a rabbithole of re-scoring, that I had forgotten just what the original scoring was (clarinet in A, two guitars and double-bass.) I had also completely forgotten that my original idea was for a Ninth Ear concert. Well, of course, that wee datum fell out of my brain because not long after the final Ninth Ear concert, I was set upon by the musical thought police, and as a consequence I was completely divested from the endeavor. In the intervening years my sense of the original grew hazy, so that I thought a harp entered into it. At present, still disinclined/unable to any new creative work, I am preparing a new scoring for clarinet and harp. If I were more sensible, I suppose I would ask myself why? as in the first place, I cannot play it, and in the second, no one else needs it. But I guess it is not, at heart, a strictly sensible undertaking. It is a piece I like, and I suppose that is that. The photo is Peter Bloom, Paul Cienniwa and I, and has nothing to do with Things Like Bliss.

03 July 2024

The World on an Easel

My indie film project ... Arugula, Arguably
The heartache of inauthentic tortilla chips.
Betty doesn't always call me, but when she does, she calls me Al.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

When I was younger, I thought I could change this world. Now I no longer think so but for emotional reasons I must keep on fighting a holding action.

— Robt Heinlein “Friday”

At this time when fresh creative work does not appear quite feasible, I have been revisiting pieces I have composed, but of which as yet I have had no luck in arranging any performance. One of my favorites (though honestly, I continue to own and enjoy them all) is In the Artist’s Studio (there’s a wide world in there.) I had forgotten, until reading this post reminded me, that it originated from a request from Maria.

02 July 2024

What Became of 'Barefoot on the Crowded Road'

Thank God I’m not on the road: When the radio personality says “afternoon reset,” but the music says “afternoon nap.”
Dreamt I went to a Lebanese bistro in a strip mall called The Shopping Off-Center, and the house specialty was “lamb chowder.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

...the BBC’s attitude toward the show [the radio production of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY] while it was in production was very similar to that which Macbeth had toward murdering people—initial doubts, followed by cautious enthusiasm and then greater and greater alarm at the sheer scale of the undertaking and still no end in sight. Reports that Geoffrey and I and the sound engineers were buried in a subterranean studio for weeks on end, taking as long to produce a single sound effect as other people took to produce an entire series (and stealing everybody else's studio time in which to do so) were all vigorously denied but absolutely true. 'The budget of the series escalated to the point that it could have practically paid for a few seconds of DALLAS ....

— Douglas Adams

So, some fourteen years ago, when White Nights would still have been a work-in-progress (if I had been applying myself to its progress, which I may not have been) I had a kind of Cola be damned feeling and decided that in spite of no apparent demand for orchestral music from me, and in the teeth of those who treated me like a kind of Enemy of Culture if I persist in writing abstract music, I decided to compose Discreet Erasures. As this post reminds me, the piece sprang in a way from a brief start I had made long before on an orchestral score I had headed Barefoot on the Crowded Road. I never got far on the road at that time, but I never disowned those first few steps, either. At the time of composing the Erasures, I dedicated the score to Charles Wuorinen. Since the piece never saw light while Charles yet breathed, it will serve in memoriam.

01 July 2024

Then He Stomped

I admit that I’m only now wondering why the ability to remember your name is contingent on there being no one for to give you no pain.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I was feeling a little disgruntled with the world at the time and had put together about six different plots, each of which ended with the destruction of the world in a different way, and for a different reason. It was to be called “The Ends of the Earth.” 'While I was filling in the details of the first plot—in which the earth was demolished to make way for a new hyperspace express route—I realized that I needed to have someone from another planet around to tell the reader what was going on, to give the story the context it needed. So I had to work out who he was and what he was doing on the Earth....

— Douglas Adams

Although I had written Misapprehension with a specific group in mind, it proved to be a bad match for that ensemble. With a nod to the year ago yesterday Cola remarks, I sought to make an accommodation, in proposing to write another piece in the hope of making a better fit. The result, which (in the event) did not get performed either, was the Saltmarsh Stomp. If it be Cola, it was not apparently to their taste. C’est vraiment la vie.