My Wallace Stevens setting, “The Snow Man” is being premiered Jan. 31 2011 in Youngstown OH by the inestimable Corinne Morini and Diane Yazvac. I will be there, so keep your autograph books handy.
I haven’t posted lately. Moving halfway across our great nation, along with the funtimes stress of a faulty towing dolly, among other things, has thrown me all out of whack.
Here’s the deal, the total deal:
I am working on more Schoenberg analyses using the Hindemith chrd groups, and creating faux-Schenkerian diagrams of them. Soon, I’ll post an analytic reduction of “Der Kranke Mond” that will make the menfolk weep. I am trying to make sense of where I was in the composing of the 4th movement of my dissertation piece. All the time I ended up taking away from both the theoretical and compositional work has done horrible things to my continuity. I also have a commission from a member of the Stambaugh Chorus for a set of pieces setting the Beatitudes, in addition to all the other works in progress.
Damn. I may need a set schedule for the rest of this year.
Funny thing about weekends when you’re unemployed. They don’t quite mean so much, except you get to hang out with all your working friends. So, I’m using weekends to work on non-dissertation music, when I can. Odd how having a deadline for one piece makes all the others one could be writing so much more attractive. Right now, this weekend, I’m turning an old art song (a setting of Zbigniew Herbert’s Nike who hesitates (go to p.29)) into a string quartet. I’m also finishing up the last of my three Poe songs in a piano revision, and maybe sketching a solo guitar piece, if time permits.
Years ago I wrote some settings of fragments from various poems by Edgar Allan Poe. As anyone who’s known me for more than ten minutes is likely aware, my favorite authors are Lovecraft and Poe. I read Poe for the first time in first grade, in an illustrated edition of The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and I haven’t been right since. So, naturally, I beat it into my younger brother as well. He sang these on my senior comp recital at YSU in their original versions, the recording of which was misplaced by the person who ran the machine. Shortly thereafter, the disc the piece was saved on (this was back when discs were allegedly “floppy” and held about 4kb) became “corrupted” and would no longer open. I thought the piece was irrepairably lost until Philip gave me his rehearsal copy of the score, allowing the rewrite I am in the midst of when not writing the dissertation.
Here’s two of the three movements from …while the angels, for tenor and piano. The third, a setting of the final lines of Annabel Lee, will be up soon.
So, this is an analytic reduction of Schoenberg’s Op. 19, No. 2. The first element to be addressed is the nearly omnipresent G-B dyad that begins the piece. It occurs in eight of the movement’s nine measures. This repetition is a sure sign of the significance of thirds in the work’s harmonic structure. The first variance from this dyad expands it out to a III.1 chord (including the melodic F-sharp). The III.1 chords are significant throughout the movement- it begins with two such chords in succession and likewise ends with a pair of them. This group contains but is not limited to diatonic seventh chords lacking tritones: major sevenths, minor sevenths, and the possible-but-rarely-encountered minor-major seventh (that is a minor triad with a major seventh above it). The melodic outlining of an A-flat major triad (interpolating what can be considered a nonharmonic A) sounding beneath the G-B dyad creates the second III.1 chord. Comparing this descent to A-flat in measure 3 to the ascent from A-flat to C in measure 6, the A-C-sharp dyad there could be construed as having a nonharmonic function as well.
Moving on to root motion, it is clear that third-relations are significant here as well. Root motion by third appears regularly; five of fourteen root movements are by thirds. An additional three connections are by whole step, harmonized in parallel major thirds, and outlining a whole-tone scale fragment, which is broken by the half-step descent to C-E prior to the final sonority, again a III.1 chord, on G.
The melodic framework extrapolated here has been ‘normalized’ into a single octave for graphing purposes. Again, in it we see the emphasis on thirds, from D to F-sharp, and then descending (in pitch classes only, the actual register of the pitches is generally the octave above) to D at the end of the movement. Also, there is an internal descent by thirds in measure three, continuing from the anacrustic F-sharp in measure two.
Again, further information as this situation unfolds.
I’ve started setting the Wallace Stevens poem The Snow Man for tenor and piano. Here’s a draft of the first 1 and 2/3 stanzae. The accomapniment is a 13-half-note pattern, varied at the close of the first stanza, and transposed for the second. I likely won’t leave it that dull rhythmically, right now I want to finish the text setting before I elaborate the support.
In my undergrad, I wrote a piece for a female percussionist friend. It turned into a piece for two percussionists, and as it happens both players were women. So I ended up titling it after another female percussionist, Maureen Tucker. The title comes from a play on the old union song “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night”, which was also referenced in Bob Dylan’s song “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.” This is not to suggest a sympathy with the Wobblies, but only a useful title. So here is I Dreamed I Saw Moe Tucker