Monday, July 7, 2014

Symphony #5

I want to write a full-length ballet. One of these days. So I thought I might use my position with the New England Philharmonic to try out some ideas for dance music. Thus, the boilerplate which follows:

Dance Episodes (Symphony No. 5) was written in the summer of 2013 and commissioned by the New England Philharmonic. I had intimated to the conductor, Dick Pittman, that I would like to try and write a few little short vignettes of maybe 3-4 minutes each for premiere by the orchestra in its 2013-14 season, and that the piece, to be called Dance Episodes, would be 10-12 minutes. But I liked the way the first movement was going and it needed a lot more space to grow, so it expanded, largely on its own but with my help, to eight minutes. The other movements got longer, too, and by the end of the summer I had a symphony of four movements rather than vignettes, and 24 minutes instead of 10-12. There was not enough rehearsal time scheduled for the whole piece, so the orchestra did just the first movement on its May 3, 2014 concert, and will premiere the whole thing on October 27 of 2014.

Here's the recording I got of the first movement, Zephyrs. Rather a fine performance with a few jitters toward the beginning. I started with the intention of letting things air out, have space, and breathe. About halfway through writing it, I no longer called it Lotsa Flutes, but Zephyrs. So it's airy. The piece is copyright © by CF Peters and is presented here with their permission.

The casual listener will note how the composer uses technique to mask a certain surfeit of content.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Préludes Book 5

Préludes Book V is under way, and was begun in April 2014. The title theme is that all titles are insects or animals translated into Italain.

#41 Mosca A nervous étude with a lot of tremolos and fast licks signifying a housefly.

#42 Scoiattolo To Amy Briggs. As a prélude with a number that is a multiple of 14, it uses music from the piano concerto I wrote for Amy, this from its third movement. The title means Squirrel, and the MIDI is sure a crapfest.

#43 Riccio A literal transcription of that hedgehog jazz Vine and straightforward "jazzi" development of the materials.

#44 Zanzara a fast and mercurial piece that was stolen from a song cycle that was being written at the time. The word means mosquito. Crappy midi below.

#45 Moscerino a fast and high antsy piece in the manner of gnats. Crappy midi below.

#46 Alce Americano an Americana stately bichordal chorale with big chords. It means American elk, which is the only way to say moose in Italian. I wrote it at Beff's suggestion, so that in this book I could  have moose and squirrel préludes.

#47 Uccello, with a lot of fast repetitive licks, bird chipping gestures, and chords whose notes are dampened one at a time, in a prescribed rhythm.

#48 not written

#49 not written

#50 not written

Friday, September 13, 2013


I wrote three flutudes for Mary Fukushima-Kirkendoll in 2008-9 — on tongue rams and simple beatboxing, on tongue pizzicati and keyslaps, and on harmonics. They are © by CF Peters.

This movie is a runthrough of the first flutude, Ram Tough, before a concert at the Firehouse Space in April 2012, with Mary playing. It certainly does rock. It can be played on flute or alto flute, and Mary uses alto flute so that the tongue rams part your hair rather than just sending a little breeze your way.

And here Mary is again, playing it on alto flute at the University of Oklahoma in November, 2013.

These are the first two flutudes. Recording is from the premiere.

Mary recorded Ram Tough on alto flute. Stay tuned. Then stop.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Préludes Book 4

The préludes in Book IV are all named after yoga poses. The préludes in the book copyright © by CF Peters, Edition 67829d.

Child's (#31) is named after child's pose and was written as a present to Amy Briggs in celebration of her new Schoenhut toy piano — something she will be using to work up Books VIII and IX of the 'tudes for recording. It is the one of this book that I can play. It's okay to play it on a 3-octave toy piano, harpsichord, celesta, piano, or any combination of those. Here's a SoundCloud thingie of it using a cheesefest of a celesta patch.

Extended Puppy (#32). Written for Blair McMillen to premiere at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in February 2014. The scheming for this one was by Sebastian Currier, who managed an honorarium to write it. Here's the crappisch Finale MIDI. Informal run-through in Princeton is here.

Cobra (#33) is a dialogue between two-hand tremolos and very fast lines in octaves that rise and terminate on long notes (probably signifying how you get into cobra pose or something like that).

King Pigeon (#34). To Tina Tallon. It's a piano piece I'll never be able to play named after a yoga pose I'll never be able to do. It is a true fact that pigeons love parallel fourths.

Tree (#35). What to do occurred to me while I was actually doing tree pose. It's an uneven ostinato around G with sprouts coming out of it, in a manner of speaking. I asked Amy Briggs to choose which pitch would be the tonic, and she chose G for Green. Finale sucks at doing the subtle accelerandos and rallentandos I notated, but so what?

Happy Baby (#36). For toy piano or piano or any keyboard instrument or electronic keyboard instrument or banjos or steel drum, etc. But especially for toy piano. This is really how it feels to do the pose, and what it's like listening to a happy baby play a toy piano.

Cow and Cat (#37) with lotsa upbeat grace note figures.

Scorpion (#38). The only scorpion I ever saw in person was a small black one that stayed in the same position in the Civitella Ranieri castle for a several hours before it just disappeared. Hence the unyielding ostinato. The rest is, well, the pose, and cheesy movie scorpions. Stabbing chords, etc., you know.

Corpse (#39). This is the rest pose at the end of a lot of yoga routines, on your back. Accordingly, your back has the tonic note D. And it's the only one in Book IV that I can play.

Downward Facing Dog (#40) is based on a series of downward moving lines, and "barking" chords.

Préludes Book 3

The third book of piano préludes was written between March and August, 2013. All the titles are onomatopoeia, and that was Karl Larson's idea. The book is published by C.F. Peters, Edition 68329c.

Sizzle (#21) is the counterweight to étude #90, which is named Solid Goldie, after Marilyn Nonken's first daughter. I asked Marilyn to choose a word from a list of onomatopoeia that most characterized her second daughter, Billie, and she chose sizzle. It's an antsy thing with gestures imitating things being thrown onto the grill and sizzling.

Squish (#22). The title says it all. Many of the markings use the word "knead" in them. Here's the midi cheesefest.

Croak (#23), marked ranamente, uses gestures that imitate frog sounds — especially low ribbits and rubber band sounds, the ones that used to keep me awake when we lived in Spencer, Massachusetts. A little ways through, the peepers take over, and then stop. Here's the midi cheesefest.

Jangle (#24) for piano and toy piano, but the toy piano is played by the left hand.

Purr (#25) uses as its starting point arabesques that imitate a cat's meow and chords with alternating up- and down-rolling to imitate the purring sounds. In the midicheesefest below, the rolling is not done, so imagine it is.

Zap (#26) is a barn burner with fast perpetual motion eighths alternating with two-hand tremolos. Tempo marking is Approaching the Speed of light with quarter = 144-299,792,458. Here's a midi cheesefest from SoundCloud.

Cuckoo (#27) is based on the two-note cuckoo call, specifically this one. Here's the midi cheesefest.

Rip (#28) rips some of the slow music from my second piano concerto, written for Amy Briggs, and adds an eleven-bar intro to it. The rip also references the original concerto movement, written in memory of Milton Babbitt ("R.I.P. Milton Babbitt"). Dedicated to Amy Briggs.

Bump (#29) is the one from the book that I can play. It's a bunch of slow repeated note ostinati with chord bumps in them.

Rustle (#30) is another barn burner, this one strings of scale fragments alternating with a spastic repeated note gesture that imitates rustling. Here's its midi cheesefest.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Symphony #4

"Scare Quotes". In 2009 I was commissioned by the US Marine Chamber Orchestra to write an orchestra piece stealing Beethoven's 5th, for a children's concert. It's a five-minute piece named after something on the Weather Channel web page the day I finished it: Current Conditions. Beff finished a piece the same day, and her piece is called Winter Weather Advisory. There was a complicated script for the whole concert, and I showed up near the end wearing a blue wig. Is that awesome, or what?

It seemed that a five-minute piece for orchestra needed siblings, so I added three more, which the New England Philharmonic eventually commissioned. Because I am their composer in residence. Each of the other movements also takes its title from the Weather Channel page on the day I finished it. I. quotes two Brandenburg concerti, and also responds to Beff's challenge to feature melodica prominently. III. quotes the Urlicht movement of Mahler 2. IV. quotes both the first and last movements of Mozart 40.

I planned ahead for Double Shot to be 300 bars, and to take ten days to write by averaging 30 bars a day. It's 301 bars, and took ten days to write.

The movements can (and likely should) be performed alone. Scare Quotes is © by CF Peters.

For the sake of counting down. Symphony #3 is here. #2 is Ten of A Kind, on lots of streaming services, iTunes, etc. #1 will stay in the vaults for now, and probably forever.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Multiples of one instrument

Cell'Out (2009-10) is for four 'celli, and written for Rhonda Rider. She premiered the piece in Salem, New York with the members of the 'cello seminar she teaches there — in this recording, with eleven of them. This is my Edirol recording of the second movement. Did you notice that the recapitulation comes in inverted?

It Takes Nine to Funk (2006), an arrangement of Absofunkinlutely for nine clarinet-things, including contrabass and two bass — for the retirement of the two low clarinettists in the Marine Band, but not finished in time for them to play it. And no one has played it.

Martian Counterpoint (2000, 2002) for 23 clarinets and one percussionist. On Jay Niepoetter's prompting, I rewrote the final movement of Ten of a Kind for nothing but clarinets.

A Fanfare for Two Dozen Trombones, Whose Length Was Determined by the Amount of Space Remaining in my Brown Notebook (1978) for 24 trombones. Played by the NEC Trombone Ensemble while I was otherwise occupied singing in Mahler 2 with the BSO and Abbado. The two hanging-over notes were played by Pete Cirelli and Jeff Marsanskis, who had been on my case to write for the trombone ensemble.