Thursday, May 25, 2006


Ha ha! I finally finished my "Aviary Corridor" for soprano and ensemble. It's amazing how the mind works. This piece is in ten short movements (the original poem is divided this way), and the movements coincide like arches throughout, even though this wasn't intentional, I was actually contrasting other things in the music. Parts 1 and 10 use the same chords, melodies and structures; this was intentional, of course, but then 2 and 9 align as well - using the piano to play slow repeating harmonic patterns; 4 and 8 are for voice and string quartet; 5 and 7 match in the use of the ensemble; what about 3 and 6, then? Well, they don't exactly match, but, as I said, it was mainly unconscious; My efforts on the piece had a different focus.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New Piece

I am working on my latest piece now, it's a thing for soprano and ensemble, an ensemble made up of flute, string quartet and piano. I am using the poetry of Charles Alexander, a fine poet from Arizona, and you can find some of his stuff here and here and here and a nice bio here. He releases the poems in books that are "total" art works. For example, the poem I set, Aviary Corridor, was released as, part of the screen fold series, "Primal Format Screenfold Number Five", folded paper with Alexander's poem on one side and drawing on the other (created by Cynthia Miller). The poems imitate this "screenfold" by using overlapping phrases which can
be read in different sequences. Take for example part 8 of "Aviary corridor" -

no thing
he needs
a bowl of soup
watch the thermometer
for a time
something alters
or runs
around a river

I have (for my music piece) divided it into patterns thusly:

no thing attaches
he needs a bowl of soup Tuesday
Tuesday watch the thermometer for a time
for a time something alters
something alters or runs around a river

Of course, other patterns can be made, it is of course determined by how the words fit to the lilt of the spoken voice or to the sense of what one wants it to make. I would agree with what poet Robert Creely wrote about his works:

"[Alexander’s work]hears a complex literacy of literalizing words. By means of a fencing of statements, sense is found rather than determined. The real is as thought."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Southern Fried Chicken

I returned to the US from Germany moderately recently, and am now making the rounds to find work of some kind. Now I am living down here in the south (or is it the South?) and, besides the accent, the closeness of the talk surprises me after living amongst the Germans for so long, with their Du and Sie. I was at the supermarket, searching along the huge aisles groaning with billions of different types of cereal, and, after finding the things I needed, I went up to pay for them.

"You got you a shopping card, dear?" the cashier asked me.
"Um, no I don't," I reponded.
"we'll fix you up with one in a jiff, sugar, just sign right here."

Hmmmm, dear? Sugar? It was like I was their best pal. In Germany you could hardly get the cashier to acknowledge your presence, much less say "dear" or "sugar". It was one thing I definitely missed.

Friday, May 05, 2006

As Slow as Possible

John Cage's piece, "As Slow as Possible" is getting attention - There is a performance of this piece going on even as I type at the St. Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany - and for the next 630 odd years. The New York Times has an article about it. here is the address:

NY Times