Saturday, January 10, 2015

The next piano pieces go up on SoundCloud

Four more piano pieces of mine have been uploaded to SoundCloud:

     An improvised prelude, using seven Duckworth weights
     A Prelude for Sam
     Crackin’ Lobsters: A New Culinary Rag
     Memories of You 2012

All of these performances are from “This Is It!” No. 5,  Crowell Concert Hall, Wesleyan University, Sunday 16 February 2014. The following remarks are edited from my notes on SoundCloud:

Duckworth weights are constructed by taping together several lead weights the size of piano keys, used by piano technicians to regulate the action. They are required for the performance of "The Time Curve Preludes," Bill Duckworth’s magnum opus for the piano that I recorded in 1980. I have taken to using these weights in improvisations as well as composing for these weights, and elsewhere on this blog I discuss them in greater detail. Bill's invention is a brilliant one, and should be used by composers and pianists everywhere. The effects are subtle and do not always come across in recordings. They are clearly audible in the hall, however.

“A Prelude for Sam” was written in memory of Sam Lowe, a Wesleyan alum and student of mine who died unexpectedly in 2011 at the age of 56. He was a composer and an excellent jazz musician. Both of us were from Birmingham. The musical materials of this piece are made from the letters of his complete name, Samuel Hayes Lowe. Sam’s sudden passing was deeply felt by many at Wesleyan, and a concert in his honor took place during Alumni/Commencement Weekend of 2012.

“Crackin’ Lobsters: A New Culinary Rag” is dedicated to my friend the late, great Blake Reynolds (Wesleyan '36 or something like that). This composition was inspired by a festive dinner in a restaurant in Maine years ago. No one was talking for at least a half a minute and everyone was eating lobster. The cracking sounds were omnipresent and very pleasant — found music in an unexpected place.

“Memories of You 2012” was arranged from Memories of You for unspecified instruments with or without reading and dancing (1968), composed in collaboration with William Duckworth. This version for piano solo and Duckworth weights was made for, and performed as part of a memorial concert for Bill at Le Poisson Rouge shortly after his death. My blog of June 2, 2014 discusses these weights in some detail, and they are also mentioned in the next blog, dated June 4th.

I’m on a roll. I’ll be putting up at least one piece a day on SoundCloud for some time to some.

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