a headstone in the American Cemetery, Natchitoches
then I’m heading to Natchitoches, LA to work with Kisatchie Sound (Matthew Petty and David Steele), presenting some of my music, and doing some exploration relating to a new piece that will celebrate the 300th anniversary of this very interesting place. I’m really looking forward to this!
The inspiration for Michael’s Spoon was this text from the end of J.M. Coetzeeâ€™s 1983 novel The Life and Times of Michael K.
And if the old man climbed out of the cart and stretched himself (things were gathering pace now) and looked at where the pump had been that the soldiers had blown up so that nothing should be left standing, and complained, saying, â€˜What are we going to do about water?,â€™ he, Michael K, would produce a teaspoon from his pocket, a teaspoon and a long roll of string. He would clear the rubble from the mouth of the the shaft, he would bend the handle of the teaspoon in a loop and tie the string to it, he would lower it down the shaft deep into the earth, and when he brought it up there would be water in the bowl of the spoon; and in that way, he would say, one can live.
Michael’s Spoon was originally written as an all-electronic piece which is the second movement of the five-movement piece The Garden of Cyrus. That piece was released on my 1998 CD, Overstepping.
The chamber ensemble version of Michael’s Spoon was originally made in 2004 for performances by the Robin Cox Ensemble. You can download a score of that version here. You are welcome to substitute instruments as desired for your ensemble. Alternatively, the piece can be performed by a solo player on the cello part (orÂ shared by low brass), with all the other parts pre-recorded. Here’s a performing score of the two-trombone version. When you order the performance materials by clicking the button below, let me know what instrumental alterations you need. Thanks for your interest in Michael’s Spoon!
The French pianist Nicholas Horvath is performing the complete Piano Etudes of Philip Glass at Weill Hall on 9 January, alongside a selection of homages. I wrote Enough Holes for the project, and it will be premiered on this concert. Should be a very cool evening of piano music!
You can hear the premiere of No Delight in Sacrifice, a small piece responding to The Rite of Spring, at the above link.
Here’s the premiere recording of my Rilke-inspired piece about unicorns, Einhorn, commissioned and performed by the wonderful Lydia Van Dreel. You can find it in all the usual places, or click the CD cover below to go directly to CD Baby:
I’ve posted a new score today, the 2008 piece I wrote for the Young People’s Chorus of New York. It’s a tricky little piece for treble chorus or for three really intrepid solo singers. Check it out!
a fresh mix of Play Like a Girl for A Book of Days:Â september 13.
Bruce Hodges review of the Cage 102 show.
new piece in A Book of Days:Â september 12. It’s called Before a Little Sand, text by Henri Michaux.
A commemoration of what would have beenÂ John Cageâ€™sÂ 102nd birthday will open the season, with a roster of new-music stars (among them Eve Beglarian, Vicky Chow, Nick Hallett, John King and Mr. Gibson) performing Cageâ€™s 1970 â€œSong Booksâ€ (Sept. 5).Â
Mary Rowell and the Guidonian Hand are heading out to Arizona next week to do The River Project on the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Two nights: 22-23 August, should be lots of fun!!!
Pump MusicÂ is inspired by a series of hand pumps I encountered in campsites while traveling down the Mississippi River in 2009. I recorded this pump at a campsite called Wanagan’s Landing, which was the place we stayed after the very first day of paddling, on 1 August 2009. It’s maybe ten miles down from the headwaters of the Mississippi River, in northern Minnesota.
I was struck not only by the raucous noise of the pump, but also by the unearthly melody of the afterglow as the water recedes back into the earth when you stop pumping. The melody is not a simple overtone series as you might expect, but some curious phenomenon emerging from the length and diameter of the pipe that I don’t have enough physics to understand.
Pump MusicÂ was commissioned for the Guidonian Hand and Mary RowellÂ by Meet the Composer/Commissioning Music USA, and is dedicated to them with vast affection.
Pump Music is part of my ongoing project, A Book of Days. To hear the premiere performance (at Roulette on 1 June 2012), please visit August 1st.
HereÂ is a score of the complete piece in pdf format.
After you click the donation button below, you’ll get all the necessary materials to perform the piece.
You can also readÂ this blog postÂ about 1 August 2009 ofÂ The River Project.
I’ve posted a new piece called Play Like a Girl,Â a set of eight keyboard variations on the Bulgarian Women’s Chorus standard,Â Kaval Sviri. Some work well on grand piano, others on toy piano or celeste or harpsichord or other “girly” instruments, as you like. The variations can be played simultaneously or successively in any combination for a total of eight factorial versions of the piece. I amÂ posting twelve different versions of the pieceÂ inÂ A Book of Days, on the 13th of each month. You can listen to those to get a sense of the possibilities.
Play like the girl you are (or sometimes wish you were!)
here’s a score of a piece for solo trombone, written for Will Lang, in honor of John Cage’s 100th birthday. you use the I Ching to come up with the notes for the piece, and you can add a super-long delay if you want to get allÂ meditational about it. I hope you enjoy it:Â and let me know if you’d like to try it on a different instrument than trombone. I think it needs to stay in the breath-producing family: brass, winds, or voice could all work.
Enough Holes was written for the French pianist Nicolas Horvath to perform on a concert of hommages to Philip Glass. The piece is a response to one that Glass wrote with Foday Musa Suso for a 1989 production of Jean Genet’s play The Screens. My piece is inspired by an error-filled computer transcription of the original recording, further edited and transformed manually. I hope it has enough holes.
THE MOTHER: Take the blanket.
LEILA (pointing to a blanket): That one?
THE MOTHER: No, not that one. It hasn’t enough holes.
THE GENDARME (to THE MOTHER): Giving her the one with the most holes?
THE MOTHER: What interests her is the holes. The more there are, the better she likes it.
Genet: The Screens (1961)
three versions of a wedding song with text by Walt Whitman. dedicated to Meredith and Debra, Tim and Morley, and Raquel and Matt.
Today’s Book of Days piece is a love song I wrote in another life (1999), with a text by Jeanette Winterson. “never unfold too much…”
here’s the book of days piece forÂ april 22.