Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Taking Personal Inventory

Excerpt from String Quartet No. 3 (The Long Thoughts, part 1). Posted by Hello

Every so often I like to take a little inventory of all the compositions I seem to keep on the go over months and years at a time (the String Quartet excerpted above is one of the lucky ones to see its way to a completed draft).

1) Piano Concerto No. 1. First movement is done and proof-read. Second movement is about 90% complete. I'm still hung up on orchestrating the "thick" section. It's a "processional" movement in the program music underlying this 19 movement work. The harmonic system on this one is personally satisfying and the "story" element seems to sit right with me. I couldn't be happier with the First Movement (Prelude).

2) Apostate Verses. An electronic work. It's been on the backburner for a few months after I discovered a fatal error in the rough draft. It needed a re-think altogether even though I think the idea behind it is sound. It builds on one of the harmonic ideas I started using in the String Quartet No. 3 and augments them.

3) Salt Tea. For voice, violin, cello and re-tuned piano. The first movement has been done for some time now and the second movement is 90% complete. I'm still struggling with the text for the second movement. Words are severely difficult for me compositionally. Though one of the primary motivations for writing this one is to overcome my verb-phobia by applying abstract manipulation techniques to spoken language (treating it as a compositional element subject to inversion, permutation, etc.).

4) The Long Thoughts part 2. For solo re-tuned piano. A continuation of the "Long Thoughts" series started with String Quartet No. 3. This time scored as an epic solo piano composition. There is a lot of work to be done on this one yet. I'd like to be in a position to perform this one myself (along the lines of LaMonte Young's Well Tuned Piano) in the years ahead.

5) As yet un-named electronic composition. I'm kicking around a pseudo 5-voice canon idea that works with modulating between different just intonation spaces (say, moving between a 5-limit just system and a "LaMonte Young" 7,3 just system or even something using only 11's). I try to approach electronic composition like Conlon Nancarrow punching out player piano rolls. It's a good place to sound out some ideas that can then be carried over to the chamber music writing. (And vice versa). Kind of like Nancarrow's great rhythmic manipulations worked out on piano rolls before he writes his string quartet.

6) Anne Hutchinson. An opera. It's something that's been in mind for a long long time. I'm going to have to set my sights on writing some more vocal music before I get a reasonable handle on this one. Anne Hutchinson was a Puritan in early 17th century New England who was later cast out as a heretic. I view this opera as a valued personal expression and portrayal of the classic "enlightened/persecuted" narrative I find so attractive. I envision it as something between Philip Glass's Akhnaten and Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Arron mixed with Erik Satie's Socrate.

7) String Quartet No. 2. Technically complete. Though I really need to revisit it and get the score into better shape.

That's the "in progress" list for today. I'll try to get some of them done before I add anything new to that list.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A fascinating weblog, sir. Are you familiar with Varese or Zappa ("serial" music)?

Frank Kelly
Costa Rica Expat