How am I? What am I working on? HOW IS LIFE IN NYC!? - questions my friends/fans/family/ are asking me fairly nonstop. Wohoo, how about some answers in a consistent blog format? Also, since Mondays sort of make or break the week for me, #MotivatedMonday, The Blog, will help me codify strong starts to the week. So here goes:
Last week was actually pretty great, strep throat notwithstanding (I finally got it, after all those days in high school where I practically wished almost every single day in the winter to be STRUCK BY STREP so that I could stay home and...write music, actually....well I finally got my wish, in the middle of summer, post-academic career).
Piece Du Jour:
Last week I finished a short piece for the Washington Square Winds’ November concert in NYC. The concert is centered around Faure’s Pavane, which I think has the worst B section in history. Thankfully this is balanced by one of the most beautiful, and definitely most memorable, A sections in history. But seriously, that B section... and this is what happens, kids, when we modulate in an overt and perverse manner. The other (newer) pieces on the concert were commissioned by WSW with the intention that they be inspired by the Pavane. So I wrote a galliard. The pavane and the galliard were Renaissance dances frequently paired with each other, the slow and sober pavane balancing quite nicely the aggressive leaps and syncopation of the galliard. Fun Fact: apparently Queen Elizabeth I started her morning routine with several (six or seven) galliards in an effort to maintain her physique. I’m really looking forward to rehearsals with WSW (a woodwind quintet) leading up to the concert.
Quintessential New York City Experience:
So there’s this speakeasy bookstore that I love. You really do have to know someone who knows someone to get invited to go there, and it’s so worth it because it’s this tiny little apartment quite literally filled to the gills with books on books on books, and every night it’s open it is filled with a new amalgamation of regulars and brave new literary sojourners. Last Friday evening was the final Brazenhead soirée (the store is sadly closing), so I went and immediately snuck into the First Editions Room where a few people were sitting on stools/chairs/deflated cushions of an old couch under the glow of four walls of first editions of your favorite authors, and a guy was playing his guitar in that half-volume way you do when you want to play but aren’t sure if the sounds that come out will actually appeal to the people around you. Turns out everyone in that room were writers of words (yep, makes sense), and pretty soon we were talking about how learning exactly how things are constructed often harms our enjoyment of them. They mentioned English analysis classes and how now they really can’t consume a book without being painfully aware of not-the-best syntax or a word that really could have used a synonym or plot points that don’t quite work. I offered my own fall from innocence: learning music theory was as traumatic as learning that Santa (and the Tooth Fairy, goodness gracious) wasn’t real. These magical moments that music had had for me were suddenly condensed into a formulaic treatment of viennese trichords and french augmented sixths and stacked fourths. We of the First Editions Room agreed that an integral component of a career in our chosen crafts is taking on the weight of awareness of these things so that we can create new strings of words and notes, benefited by our knowledge, that will benefit people who read and hear them.
This New Piece You Should Listen To:
Everyone who has heard my string trio Out of the Dust can probably make an educated guess that I’m super into fiddly-type music....that music that feels as silver and cool and wet as late summer evenings on rural, peeling-paint porches in Appalachia often did and often do. Listening to Helping Hand from the Yo Yo Ma/Edgar Meyer/Chris Thile/Stuart Duncan Goat Rodeo album transports me there immediately. Seriously, I’ve listened to this piece on repeat for hours this past week. My favorite part is the EXCELLENT harmonic-glissandi at 2:40. “What even IS THAT!?” I asked my friend. “Oh”, he replied, “that’s just Edgar Meyer being Edgar Meyer”. Other gems on that album include Attaboy, 13:8 (yes, in 13:8), and Franz and The Eagle. Enjoy.