Sunday, June 24, 2012


Today is the 28th anniversary of Banned Rehearsal!

I'm a day late because I spent my Saturday writing time working on the program for my recital of yesterday evening. As penance, here it is:


June 23, 2012
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

A Greek Nickel and Change
Keith Eisenbrey, piano

minute etudes (book one) - 1998        Emily Doolittle

Bagatelles - 1999                             Aaron Keyt
    I. deliberately articulated
    II. with detached recollection
    III. exuberantly reflective, while casually kicking the can

greek nickel #1 - 1979                       J. K. Randall


Seven Cues Without Film - 1984          Keith Eisenbrey

Sonata in Two  Movements
- 1988        Keith Eisenbrey


Canadian-American composer Emily Doolittle was born in Nova Scotia in 1972 and educated at Dalhousie University, the Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, Indiana University and Princeton. Since 2008 she has been Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She has written for such ensembles as Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Albany Symphony, Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, the Motion Ensemble and Meduse, and such soloists as sopranos Suzie LeBlanc, Janice Jackson, Patricia Green and Helen Pridmore, pianists Rachel Iwaasa and Ruth Rose, viola d'amorist Thomas Georgi and viola da gambist Karin Preslmayr.  Her doctoral research was on the relationship between bird and other animal songs and human music, a field in which she continues to be active.  Other interests include the traditional music of various cultures, community music-making, and music as a vehicle for social change.

Although the minute etudes each contain challenges for the performer, they are  compositional etudes first, and pianistic etudes second. They concern themselves with particular formal ideas rather than with ideas about how fingers and hands can move on the keyboard. Emily's tonal palette consists of a sort of slightly unstable diatonicism, which is to say that for the most part any little bit of it would sit quite comfortably in a key, but any larger portion skews subtly in several directions at once. The results are delightful.

Keith Eisenbrey brings to his pianism a composer's imaginative musical understanding, and to his composition a mysterious and majestical whimsy. Cerebral and sensuous, remorselessly speculative, his music seeks to illuminate those most intimate of our personal spaces: the silences across which, in which, and out from which music, thought, and utterance unfold. A native of the Puget Sound area, he studied composition with Dell Wade, Ken Benshoof, John Rahn, and Benjamin Boretz, and piano with Victor Smiley, Joan Purswell, and Neal O'Doan. He is a charter member of The Barrytown Orchestra, an interactive music-making ensemble based in Barrytown, New York, and is a co-founder of Banned Rehearsal, an ongoing argument in creative musical expression, which will soon celebrate its 28th anniversary. His critical and theoretical work has appeared in Perspectives of New Music, News of Music, and Open Space, and he assisted in the editing of Boretz’s Meta-Variations: Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought for its republication. His oeuvres includes solo pieces for various keyboards, songs, and chamber works. He opines weekly at He lives in the Maple Leaf neighborhood of Seattle with his wife Karen and their two boys, John and Isaac.

Seven Cues Without Film has gone by various names over the years, evidence of my general puzzlement over what they are to me and how they might come across to others. When I wrote them I was concerned with exploring the verges between a simple sound and the germ of a musical idea, between that and a full blown idea, and between that and a complete (if tiny) piece. My hope was that from this study I could find a way to think clearly about constructing larger forms. When I came back to them recently they seemed to me like bits of film music, hence the new title. And in a sense, Sonata in Two Movements is one of the fruits of that mode of thinking. While I was reacquainting myself with it these last few months I took the opportunity of making a small change to one spot that had never seemed to quite work as I thought it would. I have also simplified the pedaling scheme, removing (or treating as optional) the original heavy use of the sostenuto pedal in the first movement. The first movement ends in fortissimo octaves and the second enters immediately like a laidback lounge pianist. The two movements share some material, but don't we all?

Aaron Keyt is a local composer. He studied composition at the UW and Princeton. He has composed for orchestra, chamber groups, and piano, as well as working with computer-generated and -modified materials. Along with Keith Eisenbrey and Neal Meyer, he is a founding member of the improvisational group Banned Rehearsal, now in its 29th year.

The Bagatelles were composed during a productive week in 1999. Rhythmically rich and fiendishly delicate, in performing them the pianist is confronted with a task that feels like building a house of cards while wearing oven mitts. The musical language, though it consists of quite recognizable tunes and harmonies, is fractured horizontally, as though thin layers of brittle rock had been twisted slightly under immense pressure.

J. K. Randall has been such a powerful presence in American musical life for so long that it is difficult to overestimate his influence. He is among the first pioneers of computer-synthesized music. He taught many generations of composers and theoreticians at Princeton until his retirement in 1991. He is an inimitable writer, editor, theorist, and critic. Over the course of his long life he has collaborated with dozens of musicians, but his decades-long on-going conversation with Benjamin Boretz, in words spoken and printed as well as in music improvised and composed, stands as one of the most fruitful intellectual duets of our time.

In studying the score of greek nickel #1 the first thing that struck me was the multitude of notations used between events. There are parentheses, commas, double commas, commas inside measure lines, commas inside measure lines with fermatas (holds) above and below, empty measures, partial measure lines, full measure lines, double measure lines, and on and on. It is a piece obsessed with betweenness. And as I became more familiar with it I discovered that this obsession extends into, or perhaps began with, the distances, and the multitudes of qualities of distances, between notes ostensibly played at the same time.


June 17, 2012
Gradus 81 - Neal Meyer

Distance, as an affect, is a function of the combined effects of pitch and amplitude. Distant sounding sounds sound distant in respect to the space into which they spread, and which they create.

BF Autoharp, Barang, Clay Drum, Frame Drum, Gong, and Kora Chorus - Keith Eisenbrey

Collecting more sounds for Blood and Fire Hallelujah

accumulation to tipping point
creates and idea
toward the buzz rachet
rhythm of fireworks, artillery
resonance dissociates from impact
tangle a thicket

June 20, 2012
Tragic Overture - Brahms - Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer

A key is a thing to be fought.

Intermezzo in D minor for String Quintet - Bruckner - Melose Quartet with Enrique Santiago

A key is what emanates from where I am.

June 21, 2012
Chinatown - Fletcher Henderson [from Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]

Fervid Charleston

Smack Up - Art Pepper [from Smack Up]
Kiss Me Baby - The Beach Boys [collected from Dave Marsh's The Heart of Rock & Soul]

The backup harmonies are arranged so that they are part of what the drum kit is doing.

Restless Nights - Bruce Springsteen [from Tracks]

Sounds like it was filtered through another sound source, or digitally narrowed. Old-fashioned, almost mono.

Banned Couple 4 - Banned Rehearsal
Karen & Me in Brook House, Bard College, October 1987

In Session at The Tintinabulary

June 18, 2012
Banned Rehearsal 816 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Keyt, Neal Meyer

The 28th Bannediversary, obvserved.


Saturday October 20, 2012 concert begins at 8:00 PM
Keith Eisenbrey - piano recital at The Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle
Preludes in Seattle Part 4: Preludes by Ken Benshoof, Keith Eisenbrey, Lockrem Johnson, and Greg Short 

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