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Double Takes and Triple Plays

DOUBLE TAKES AND TRIPLE PLAYS features seven works spanning a 20-year period (1992-2012) of my musical life bridging the 20th century to the 21st.

 

Much of what I have composed has been dictated by the practicality of performance, meaning small forces of mixed instrumental ensembles--duos, quartets and solos-- with the occasional use of computer-based, digital technology.

 

From the beginning of my composing activity I have combined popular and serious music in my works.  For me “music is music” as I have been active as a performing musician and composer in a wide variety of genres through the years.

 

My own musical ‘river’ consists primarily of two tributaries: 1)-American music and its numerous offshoots from blues to jazz to rock to the experimental, and, 2)-the Western European concert music tradition ranging over three centuries from the late Baroque to the current day.

 

One such personification of the above ‘river’ for me would be: 1) Muddy Waters to Duke Ellington to the Beatles to John Cage, and, 2) J.S. Bach to György Ligeti.

 

 

Panache

Relâche Ensemble | Bob Butryn, clarinet and bass clarinet; John Dulik, piano;

Chris Hanning, percussion; Jon  Gaarder, bassoon; Michele Kelly, flute;

Ruth Frazier, viola; Douglas Mapp, bass; Lloyd Shorter, oboe and English horn

 

Panache was commissioned by Philadelphia’s premier new music ensemble, Relâche, and premiered by them in September, 2001.

 

A three-movement work, the middle movement reflects the tragic mood of a post-9/11 nation.

 

In light of the French derivation of the name Relâche, I decided to use French for the movement’s titles.

 

The first movement, for which the composition is named, "Panache" (dash, or verve) is fast and energetic within a framework of rhythmic intricacy.

 

The second movement, "Noir" (black) exhibits a more introspective, somber mood and showcases solo passages for the winds. The final movement, "Elan" (enthusiastic liveliness and vigor) features a driving intensity and contrasting qualities of restlessness and repose.

 

 

Interfacing

Todd Welbourne, piano

 

Interfacing, a three-movement work, was premiered at the International Symposium for Electronic Art (ISEA) at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art in September, 1997.

 

Features a live pianist performing on a Yamaha Disklavier that is linked via MAX (a visual programming language for music) to a Kurzweil K2500 sampler. MIDI files are triggered by the pianist to launch sequences played by the Disklavier or the sampler.

 

This allows the performer to control the exact moment that the additional sounds and/or music lines begin and end. Movement I, "MIDI Blue Boogie," reflects my love of the indigenous American music I grew up on.

 

Movement II, "Soundscape in Black and White," is a dark somewhat brooding section that combines the acoustic piano timbre with samples from various extended and prepared piano techniques.

 

Movement III "Bonks, Thunks & Kenong," is a musical bridge between the worlds of the prepared piano and the gamelan orchestra of Indonesia. Can you figure out how the grand piano bends pitches?  A concert reviewer from the New Music Box was baffled.

 

Thanks to the brilliant pianist Todd Welbourne for his playing of Interfacing around the nation and for his technical expertise related to the MAX programming.

 

 

 

Inside Out

Chicago Saxophone Quartet | Wayne Richards, soprano sax; Paul Bro, alto sax;

Leo Saguiguit, tenor sax; James Kasprzyk, baritone sax

 

Inside Out was commissioned by the Chicago Saxophone Quartet and premiered during their tour of Taiwan in August, 2009.

 

It is a two-movement composition with each movement focusing on its own unique collection of musical materials to create a distinct personality and mood. The first movement is based on an 8-note blues-tinged scale.

 

The second uses a 7-note scale emphasizing the major third implying the augmented triad.

 

 

Keyboard Dances  

Todd Welbourne, piano; Ilia Radoslavov, piano

 

Keyboard Dances was premiered in Madison, WI in November, 2003 by pianists Todd Welbourne and Karen Becker.

 

The first movement composed in 2003 incorporates a raucous quality reminiscent of the pioneers of boogie-woogie and rock/blues piano.

 

The second movement is a transcription of a chamber work for five instruments composed in 1996.

 

The title refers to passages found in each movement that evoke the spirit of  American popular dance.

 

 

 

Double Take

Relâche Ensemble | Bob Butryn, clarinet and bass clarinet; John Dulik, piano;

Chris Hanning, percussion; Jon  Gaarder, bassoon; Michele Kelly, flute;

Ruth Frazier, viola; Douglas Mapp, bass; Lloyd Shorter, oboe and English horn

 

Double Take was premiered by the ensemble Present Music in Milwaukee, WI in November, 1992.

 

In 1994 it was arranged for the Relâche ensemble and became a regular part of their repertory.

 

This version, with viola and double bass replacing the violin and cello in the original instrumentation, is included on this CD.

 

This composition, like much of my instrumental music from the early 1980s onward, utilizes a through-composed, one-movement form based on brief melodic/harmonic units.

 

Conductor/music critic Timothy V. Clark wrote in 1995  “…there’s the play on the work’s title. Each larger gesture in Double Take (and also quite a few of the smaller, building-block units) is immediately echoed. But, as with the surprised reaction of a double-take, none of these repetitions is exact.”

 

 

 

Streets and Bridges

Jeri-Mae Astolfi, piano

 

Streets and Bridges is a 3-movement composition for piano based on musical reflections of my youthful days living on the east side of Milwaukee. Three locations of personal significance are highlighted.

 

Commissioned and premiered in 2012 with funding by the Wisconsin Arts Board for a new piano work for Jeri-Mae Astolfi as part of the Wisconsin Soundscapes Project.

 

Movement I. Downer Avenue---during my Milwaukee days Downer Avenue was a genteel neighborhood that had a wonderful artistic and intellectual ambience, primarily due to having the UWM campus located nearby. I traveled the street almost daily making my sojourns to campus to pursue my composition studies in the early 70s.  In the last few measures I have included a very brief passage from my composition professor John Downey’s Pyramids as a memoriam to his mentorship and musical talents.

 

Movement II.  Lafayette Place---where I spent my adolescence living in an apartment close to the lakefront.  My musical roots where laid there.  I was involved with various styles of American music (rock, blues, soul, etc.) alongside my burgeoning interest in Western classical music.

 

Movement III. Brady Street--- during that time Brady Street was a colorful working class neighborhood with a strong Italian ethnicity that morphed into the city's center of the counterculture by the late 1960s.

 

 

Triple Play

Todd Welbourne, piano

 

Triple Play was composed for pianist Todd Welbourne in the spring of 1992.

 

The composition utilizes three separate keyboards, hence the title.

 

The “live” pianist is augmented by a MIDI disklavier and a keyboard sampler loaded with a piano sound tuned in eighth-tones (48 pitches per octave).

 

The difficulty for the performer is to stay in exact sync with the MIDI sequences over the work’s six minute duration.