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. Here is Marilyn's premiere of it.

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.

Monday, February 18, 2013

String orchestra

Dream Symphony (2003). My first piece to used dreamed music, and it's the basis of the whole piece. The opening falls apart, as it did in a stress dream, and the rest of the piece deals with that. Another passage, starting around 7:00 of the first movement is also dreamed music, from a different dream. The best music is the last five minutes of the finale. © Peters Edition 68135.

Elegy (1980, 1982, 1984). Began as a string quartet bagatelle, was revised at the behest of Paul Lansky, who noticed correctly that the bagatelle was way too short, and arranged for string orchestra at the behest of Michael Pratt, so he could premiere it in Newark. This is that premiere, noise-reduced to within an inch of its life. Written in memory of my parents.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pieces written in two hours or less

High Def (2009) was written for Gil Harel. It's a setting of what he said to me every time he saw me in the hallway at Brandeis: Hey, Davy! The initials of that are HD, hence the title High Def. The joke (it's always funnier when you explain a joke) is that it's a piano piece with obbligato voice. I wrote it between 9:45 and 11:15 one morning. The performers are Gil Harel and Alexander Lane.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Organ music

Elegy is an arrangement of the solo piano piece Sara (2002) made by Carson Cooman. It is published by CF Peters, Edition 68131a. This performance is by Alexander Lane.

Junctures (1978) is juvenilia, but is a real hoot. This is the premiere performance by Julie Soloway on the Aeolian-Skinner organ of the Church of the Advent in Boston, the hardware for which is was written.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Piano trios

Hyperblue (1991-93) commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation for the Itzkoff-Shapiro-Rider trio. This is the recording of the premiere performance in March, 1993. In three movements without pause. Copyright © by CF Peters, Edition 67541. "A nontraditional piano trio of strong profile." — Richard Buell, Boston Globe.

Attitude Problem (1996) for the Triple Helix Trio. In three movements without pause. Copyright © by CF Peters, Edition 67776. I wrote about it for Current Musicology, and it looks like this. "It uses silences and sudden parameter shifts to delightfully droll effect." — David Cleary, 21st Century Music.

Inside Story (2005) for Curtis Macomber's festival in Vermont, with Norm Fischer, 'cello, and Jeanne Kierman, piano. In three movements with pause. Copyright © by CF Peters, Edition 68134. This performance is by Speculum Musicæ. "This is the news, and it's not pretty." — Alan Kozinn, NYT

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Non-étude non-prélude piano music

Hotfingers (2012) for Nick Phillips. For an "American vernacular" project, and I am one of several composers who wrote for it. It's a funk that never quite turns into funk, a blues, and a bebop. The set is dedicated to Gene Caprioglio for what can only be described as the silliest of reasons. It's published by CF Peters, and the subtitle is Three Vernaculer Nondances.

Here is Nick's performance of the piece on his faculty recital at UW Eau Claire February 9, 2014.

The edited CD recording of all of Hotfingers can be previewed (but not downloaded) on SoundCloud: Superfractalistic, Growing Season Blues, and Ecoutez et Répétez.

Beezle Nose (2004) for Robert Ceely's retirement concert.

Sara (2004) Elegy in memoriam Sara Doniach.

Siren Song (1995) ostinato piece on Italian ambulance sirens. I dashed it off to have something to play to clear my head whenever an ambulance would pass by the American Academy in Rome. This is what they sound like. Note that my piece incorporates the Doppler shift by modulating down a half step (the smallest possible modulation increment available on the piano).

Crackling Fire (1990) for piano four hands. For Jim Goldsworthy and Sara Doniach.