Monday, September 11, 2006


Shipoopi is the name of a song from The Music Man. It's sung by Marcellus Washburn, a friend of Harold Hill. The song is about finding love and occurs at about the same time that Marian begins to fall for Professor Hill's wooing, but some versions of the musical have been performed without them, as it doesn't specifically refer to the characters in the song.

A really excellent version of the song can be foundhere.

Besides that, the word Shipoopi is quite nice.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Steve Reich

Steve Reich's 70th is coming up (october three), so I thought I would start a bit early. Here is a video ofDrummingwhich was recorded with Professor Steven Schick and his ensemble.

Friday, September 08, 2006

New stuff

Well, what have I composed this summer? I just finished a set of songs (bass voice, piano and string quartet) called Rhyme and Reason. The title matches the poems - I used three nursery rhymes, well, two nursery rhymes and a counting-out rhyme. Counting-out rhymes are those things that children do to choose teams or such - you know, like eeny, meeny, miney, mo and so on. There are many, many variations of these rhymes and they go back hundreds of years. The one I chose was used in Connecticut in the early 19th century -

Onery, uery, ickery, see,
Huckabone, crackabone, tilleebonee,
Ram pang, muskidan, Striddledum, straddledum, twentyone.

Basically nonsense words - but quite enjoyable to set.

The second song is based on a lesser-known nursery rhyme called "There was a Man of Double Deed", very unusual text -

There was a man of double deed
Sowed his garden full of seed.
When the seed began to grow,
‘Twas like a garden full of snow;
When the snow began to melt,
‘Twas like a ship without a belt;
When the ship began to sail,
‘Twas like a bird without a tail;
When the bird began to fly,
‘Twas like an eagle in the sky.
When the sky began to roar,
‘Twas like a lion at the door;
When the door began to crack,
‘Twas like a stick across my back;
When my back began to smart,
‘Twas like a penknife in my heart;
When my heart began to bleed,
‘Twas death and death and death indeed.

and the third is a light-hearted song (to help alleviate the above song)

Where are you going to, my pretty maid?
I’m going a-milking, sir, she said,
Sir, she said, sir, she said,
I’m going a-milking, sir, she said.

May I go with you, my pretty maid?
You’re kindly welcome sir, she said.

Say, will you marry me, my pretty maid?
Yes, if you please, kind sir, she said.

What is your father, my pretty maid?
My father’s a farmer, sir, she said.

What is your fortune, my pretty maid?
My face is my fortune, sir, she said.

Then I can’t marry you, my pretty maid.
Nobody asked you, sir, she said.

Which seems to have been taken from an earlier folksong, but it isn't certain. The songs restricted my choice of musical material - the rhythmic patterns of the poems, the constant rhyming - to a basic song-refrain style, but with slight pulling and stretching of the repeats, so as to keep interest.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Here is the biographical note on the main webpage of Aaron Cassidy:

Aaron Cassidy is a young composer currently based in Chicago, Illinois. His music is gaining increasingly widespread exposure, with performances in the United States, Mexico, Austria, the Netherlands, Croatia, England, France, Sweden, Switzerland, and Germany.

His music can be characterized by an uncompromising dedication to instability and fragmentation. The received wisdom of performance practice is continually questioned and reasserted, often with intentionally unpredictable results. His recent works have experimented largely with the interaction of a performer with his/her instrument, introducing a decoupling of component performance techniques. Fracture is prioritized in timbral, structural, and rhythmic strata in such a way that resulting aural units are themselves only the byproducts or collisions of independent (and often cyclic) musical processes. The musical score becomes, then, both the locus of processual sediment and concurrently the cause of significant deterritorialization on the part of performer and listener alike.

Recent projects have included significant research of linguistic, semantic, and spatial theories, focusing in particular on heightened states of dislocation (as in Jakobson's analysis of aphasics or Deleuze & Guattari's writings on smooth and haptic space).

It's like taking a clock apart and laying out all the parts on the table-top, then expecting us to tell the time by it, or even to know that it is a clock at all. The pieces have all the fragments of the music presented, all the gestures, the notes, the dynamics, all broken down, then presented to us on the table-top.