November 12, 2016
The Campbell Brothers
University Temple United Methodist Church
This evening of friendly bluegrass-infused music was given as a benefit for the alley ministries of University Temple United Methodist Church. My long-time partner in the tenor section Dave Campbell was joined by his brother Rick Campbell - both switching variously among guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandola, and mandocello - and by Paul Elliott and Pete Goodall (on fiddle and bass respectively) for a mix of old songs and new, including covers by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. As seems to be typical with bluegrass, displays of instrumental virtuosity are interwoven with bouts of competitive self-deprecation, raised to nearly a blood sport. Many thanks to all concerned. I understand the concert raised nearly $1000!
November 13, 2016
Hubcap - Sleater-Kinney [from Call The Doctor]
Fragmentary and unfinished - in a strong, Schumannesque way. 3 parts are repeated, with a coda of back-around-to-the-top-again to hint at cycles and cycles.
|me in the 90's|
Through most of the 90's I was working in a self-consciously neo-classical style, with strong echoes of Arthur Berger and 50's era Benjamin Boretz or Elaine Barkin. Doomsome Otherings (my alternate rendering of "Canonic Variations") was originally written as a viola and piano duo in 1994, riffing on what was probably a mis-hearing of the variations in Prokofiev's Piano Concerto in C Major (#3). What I thought I heard were bits of earlier variations plugged into place in the middles of later variations. So I constructed a set of five variations (or a theme and four variations, depending on how you look at it) into each variation of which, at a set place within its schema, is inserted a bit of the surface style of the variation 3 places in front. The harmonic structure of the whole set proceeds more or less independently by a schema I couldn't explain to you anymore because I can't remember it. I believe it had something to do with transformations of pentachords in two strands proceeding at different rates. I made several unsuccessful efforts to hire players to record it for me, so when the Washington Composers' Forum held a contest for orchestral readings in 2000 I decided to orchestrate it. It's probably just as hard to play as an orchestral piece as it is for viola and piano, but Roger Nelson and crew valiantly pushed through. Many thanks to Christopher Shainin for editing the various starts and stops into a single whole. I'm still pretty pleased with the piece. Any hard-core violists out there?
Don't Care If I Die - The Earaches [from The Funhouse Comp Thing]
anger at existence.
Floorplan - Youth Rescue Mission [from Youth Rescue Mission]
Warm string kodakmoment sound, but flatfooted and begrieved - there are actual living spirits in that quiet shady street!
November 14, 2016
Cançoes Profundas - Steve Peters - Steve Peters, Rafael Carvalho, Lesli Dalaba, Beth Fleenor, Paul Kikuchi, Joshua Parmenter, Naomi Siegel, Greg Sinibaldi
Now that's what I call a baptism! Extreme inundation. You, pilgrim, have been duly dunked.
forth comes human-babble
tongues of deep :: we mimic, talk back
a cathedral a bell we stand inside
the sky a bell we stand under
distillation of ocean roll and roar
water to water :: an island enclosed
clock tick or windroar as time
alternates crisscross in the ether
thin signals from shore
shipcalls shorecalls birdcalls whalecalls
geography as memory :: memory as geography
Die Kunst der Fuge Contrapunctus III - J. S. Bach - Zoltan Kocsis
These gears are in such a tight space they really should seize up. But these cogs are subtly twisted. Creation as machine.
Sonata in B minor Hob XVI:32 - Haydn - Anton Nel
Delicacy and fineness of feeling achieving a state of decadence.
November 16, 2016
Die Zauberflöte Act I - Mozart - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Karl Bohm
Of all Mozart's well-known operas I struggle with this one the most. Sometimes I can convince myself it all hangs together, but most of the time I can't. I was doing somewhat better this time, considering it as a parable of repression and resistance, patri- and matri-archy, animal human and civilized human. What is missing entirely are the characters that seem to have stepped living and breathing out of the past. These figures were 2D then and are still so. He could sure write a stunning tune or two though.
Sonata in A Op. 101 (#28) - Beethoven - Wilhelm Kempff
My favorite part: how those repeated chords stretch out at angry angles to any world the ostensible beat might inhabit.
Barcorolle in F-sharp Op. 60 - Chopin - Vladimir Ashkenazy
Bachlike, the melody falls to the ground in parts, spreading a single beat (from a phrase-functional standpoint) out over several measures. From theme to theme is a journey and a struggle. Before the new is achieved the old must be dismantled, and the new must be strapped together from the old's parts.
November 17, 2016
King of the Bungaloos- Gene Greene [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
It is difficult to separate the musical value from the icky. On the one hand the proto-scat, in-your-face onslaught of nonsense packs a punch, but in the context it comes across as yet another infantalization of African-American experience and aspiration. In the end all I can cling to is my extreme discomfort and dismay.
Harlem Strut - James P. Johnson [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
JPJ struts out a whole song and dance routine, complete with band and backup singers. In a way he does for Vaudeville what Liszt's transcriptions did for Beethoven symphonies.
Georgia Grind - Louis Armstrong's Hot Five - Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds, Lil Armstrong, Johnny St. Cyr
Finds multiple x-tuple subdivisions of the shifting meter, each on, and creating, its own rhythmic plane. We have our work cut out for us, holding it all together. Those cats blowing on stage aren't letting on how they do it.
My Pretty Girl - Fletcher Henderson [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
A similar effect to GG above, but with whole instrumental groups playing at angles to each other, rather than individual soloists.
Romeo et Juliette, Quatrieme Tableaux - Prokofiev - Orchestre du Theatre Bolchoi de Moscou, Algis Juraitis
I couldn't help but wonder how amazingly diverse "symphonic form" would be if we all took this deeply imagined and delightfully bizarre sequence as permission and model. Such fun! The guitar standing in the corner happily reverberates the up-in-the-air ending.
Tryin' to Be True -Modern Mountaineers [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
The only way to tap the beat of the whole is to join in as an independent player, because that's exactly what each of them is doing. You just got to dance and that's that.
Ballin' The Jack- Art Hodes [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]
Deep focus on all of the above.
The Rake's Progress, Act II - Stravinsky - Orchestra of St. Luke's, Robert Craft, Jayne West, Jon Garrison, Arthur Woodley, John Cheek, Shirley Love, Wendy White, Melvin Lowery, Jeffrey Johnson, Gregg Smith Singers
An opera infesting a symphonic narrative. Or: a narrative symphony dancing with an opera. I love how at one point the harmony resolves to an old-fashioned perfectly balanced triad, followed immediately by the words "I wish I were happy!"
The first female words of the act: "How strange".
Into the idealistic heart a knife thrusts and twists. (Why nobody really likes satire, as in "likes").
The orchestra interludes work like a curtain: it does not change and it tells you nothing.
Zeitmasse - Stockhausen - Arthur Gleghorn, Donald Muggeridge, Donald Leake, Donald Christlieb, William Ulyate
3D space created on a 2D surface by careful use of perspective alone.
November 18, 2016
Double Concerto - Elliott Carter - Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg, Paul Jacobs, Gilbert Kalish
Bicameral. Two concertos partially conjoined - but not at the soloists.
Just darling! Like the Fleetwoods if they were all guys.
Pillow of Winds - Pink Floyd [from Meddle]
More warm glow music with slidy bass.
Montreux/Berlin Concerts, Cut 7 - Anthony Braxton - The Berlin New Music Group, Gerald Humel, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis
As though AB and GL were clambering to the top of EC's DC (see above), all its clatter and spite. At the top they share some sounds. The ground softens, the trees green themselves and darken. A harp closes the book. At the very end of the track, just before the applause is faded out, somebody on stage (AB? GH?) says "Somehow we got through!"
In Session at the Tintinabulary
November 14, 2016
Banned Rehearsal 922 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Steve Kennedy, Neal Kosály-Meyer
Includes birthday greetings to Anchorage Aaron.
November 15, 2016
Slow Blues - Keith Eisenbrey
I have been revisiting my 1999 solo piano piece Slow Blues. The recordings I made shortly after its completion are all about 30 minutes long. I feel it moving along a bit faster now that I have gotten better acquainted with it, and this version, though still 'slow', clocks in at a bit under 18 minutes. I am taking my original dynamics and pedal marks to be suggestive guidelines rather than prescriptions. Partly this is because my current piano (an 1890 8' Chickering) responds differently than the one I had then (a 1975 6' Yamaha). For any composer-tech types out there who are interested, this is the first piece I wrote that used each mod-17 M-transform in sequence, (M0, M1, M2 . . . M16, M0) as the structural basis for a whole piece. It also takes a significant lurch out of the neo-classical, or, perhaps, slips suddenly through a crack in the floor.