23 September 2021

This and That

She pressed her hands into an armful of winter coats on the store rack. The coats gave as she pressed in. “I'm feeling down,” she explained.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

We would especially like to welcome all the representatives of Illinois's Law Enforcement community who have chosen to join us here in the Palace Hotel ballroom at this time.

— Dan Aykroyd, in The Blues Brothers

I gave my brain an extended break after completing the Op. 172. Indeed, I did no composing as such at all until yesterday.

I did a little adapting/arranging for my church choir (we are back on weekly duty. Sometimes I comb through the filing cabinets, and I'll find an SATB which I think would be a good musical fit, save for the fact that we cannot do four-part music, which very likely (at this point) is part of a bygone musical past at the church. So I pulled two octavos to the end of arranging them so that our SAB choir can manage them. We started rehearsing one of these last week, and I have not yet finished the second (an arrangement of Christ the Apple Tree) I knew this week that I was not yet going to have the Apple Tree ready for tonight's rehearsal. Yesterday I got to work on a new Alleluia for the choir, suitable both for before Advent, and then for use at Christmastide.

I kept in mind that I have in the past composed a piece, with the idea that it should be easy enough to put together in short order, and yet, as I pursue the composerly aims of the piece, it becomes music which it is neither practical nor fair to expect my dear choristers to own in so short a time. So, while I did in fact finish the Alleluia in E-flat, Op. 174 last night, and we will begin rehearsing it tonight, I have also remembered a short piece which we know well and which therefore we can warm back up easily for this Sunday.

Chances are that the Symphony № 3 will thus be Op. 175.

Also on the theme of a dearth of tenors, we of Triad have determined that we must reconsider our upcoming program, and a further decision was to bump the concert from November to January (when hopefully we can have an actual audience in the space.) The good news is that we agree that When will work with our present personnel, so now the question is what are the dates in January? ... so that we make sure flutist Peter Bloom is available.

More good news is that the lunchtime concerts have resumed at King's Chapel, and I have reached out to The Band to pin down (or up) a date. I already have pieces for that program, Pam's Labyrinth and Moose on the Loose.




10 September 2021

September Already?

We were of the earnest opinion that the Crocodile Rock would endure.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

Being in tune with every molecule in the universe requires a great deal of concentration.

— Robin Williams as King of the Moon

We had our first choir rehearsal of the new church year last night. Turnout was on the light side, but we had music to read with the numbers we had. It was a good rehearsal.

What with not only the expenditure of energy in rehearsal, but the not-a-straight-line trip home, I was rather wiped out by the time I got home at 10 pm or so. I took my sweet time getting up this morning. At one point I considered upbraiding myself for want of motivation, but instead realized that today must be a day of recovery, and I must factor that in, going forward.

I know I posted in the past—what I believe I genuinely felt—that I would have written the Op. 172 simply for the promise of a performance, and that any money for a new piece is a plus. And I should be ashamed to voice anything like a complaint, since Maria paints museum-quality canvases which by rights ought to sell for tens of thousands of dollars, whereas she has never received anything on the order of artistically reasonable compensation. So I note simply that my subconscious had (without authorization) dreamt of a certain sum, which the reality has, I now know, failed to measure up to.


Nevertheless, this was an opportunity to write a crackling piece of chamber music which should make one hell of an impression. Remember, Karl, this is what matters.



02 September 2021

An Interlude Featuring Apparent Optimism

Massachusetts: Scientists at the Saugus Doo Wop Research Institute today announced the discovery of something which can stop the Duke of Earl.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I always suspected that once we started working together, we’d be working together for the rest of our lives, for the reason that we seem to have such a unique chemistry. I didn’t find that with anybody else, and I never have. There’s other people I like working with, but there’s nothing like working with the other Firesigns, when we come together as an ensemble.

— The late, great Peter Bergman

My Triad task of late has been to coordinate conducting assignments, and it is coming along nicely. I am close to having a rehearsal schedule for our first rehearsal on the 13th. Even though I am still waiting on some material and some responses, I want to broadcast a rehearsal schedule Saturday morning, to give folks time to prep.

There’s a Rhode Island chamber ensemble who periodically call for scores. They’ve never selected music of mine yet, so the smart money is on its being wasted effort ... but ... I got a [probably automated] e-mail today saying that the call is still open, even though they [probably] have already received 500 other submissions.

But, heck, I do have new pieces which have not yet been performed, and if the effort be wasted, it is only minimal effort. So I have submitted both The Mask I Wore Before (which went nowhere with the competition for which I originally wrote it, and an all-strings arrangement of Pam’s Labyrinth, which I almost wish that I had retitled I Was a Teenage Lesbian Supremacist for this process.



31 August 2021

As to What's Next

A perjurer in Persia.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

— Groucho Mark


I probably shan’t, but some composer with a penchant for dance might could write the Cthulhu Toodle-oo.

But enough of what I shan’t do. What shall I? Firstly there is prep for our rehearsals (beginning in less than two weeks) for Triad’s November concerts. There is a case to be made, that I ought to have done some of that work today, but I am giving my brain a post-Opus 172 breather.
On 7 Oct there is the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac do. Happily, others are doing most of the work there.
In November, Ensemble Aubade will bring the Oxygen Footprint on tour to the Southlands.
Almost certainly not until the Triad concerts are done, I need to clean up the layout of The Lungs. If in the meanwhile I do feel I have any composition capacity, I can work on the next Opus 169 organ piece. We shall see if as early as Christmas I may be able to work on the Opus 174, the Symphony № 3 for strings in memoriam Louis Andriessen.

For now, though, I’m taking the evening off.


30 August 2021

Soliloquy in the form of a Blog Post

Anyone who relies on Andrew Lloyd Webber for theological guidance, is born unto unrelievable suffering.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Give us something else; give us something new; for Heavens sake give us something bad, so long as we feel we are alive and active and not just passive admirers of tradition!

— Carl Nielsen

So, the Kerouac piece is done and delivered. I dig it and believe it will represent me well. It’s a piece which (honestly) I would have written simply with the promise of a performance, but in equal honesty it’s a piece I feel comfortable being paid for. I don’t know just how much, still. I’m not saying that I haven’t been curious.

I didn’t ask earlier. Why? If in the back of my mind I somehow posit a sum, what if the actual sum is much less? I felt that for the time being ignorance was preferable to possible disappointment. And I did not want, while I was at work on the piece, for such a disappointment to serve as impedance against my compositional electricity. And now, whatever the sum, I shall be pleased with it.



29 August 2021

The Opus 172 Finished

elite tile risqué squire scarecrow in escrow.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

There were some really funny people out there on the air [in Cleveland, Ohio], and I just loved the idea that they were having fun. I’ve always thought the thing I’ve missed most in life is being in a community where people can have fun doing what they’re doing. Things are so serious that I just wonder sometimes why people even do what they do, if they’re not having fun. I know that sounds naïve, but I mean it sometimes.

— the late, great Peter Bergman

Gentle Reader, I have completed the piece, and in good time. For a while there I wondered if the deadline would best me. On the 17th, I had reached a point when I thought the goal was in easy sight. I had what seemed a good idea for proceeding, but I couldn't shape it to my satisfaction. I was visited by a second idea which also seemed a good ’un, and which seemed to possess the additional virtue of helping me to get on with the first idea. But it was all rubbish. With a 1 September deadline looming, I knew I had to roll up my sleeves this weekend.  None of my work Saturday morning or early afternoon was worthy of the piece—and I remembered: the eraser is your friend, Karl. I knew I had to excise everything I had been throwing at the score since the 17th, and start fresh, sketching something completely different to the ideas which, for all their seeming so good in the abstract, were a dead end. I set to the fresh work this morning, and that was all I needed. The piece is done and now I have a couple of days to prep the parts. The piece is still going to need a soprano who knows no fear ....




15 August 2021

Coming Into the Home Stretch

Gnarly lasagne with putative pepperoni.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

‘... I've hardly any possessions, almost no friends.’
‘I’m a friend,’ said Russell cheerfully.
‘No, Russell, you aren’t a friend. You have an interesting mind, despite being English, but I wouldn’t say that you were my friend. On the whole I find you vain and frivolous.’ Russell reminded himself quietly that candour was a virtue.

— Terry Eagleton, from “Saints and Scholars”

I think I am now finished with the fifth chorus (90) of the Op. 172. Almost at the seven-minute mark, which is just right to pace out the rest. And, speaking of rest, yes, I think I should, thanks.