Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Uncertain Time (Perenepsis XI)

I took the day off from composing yesterday, but still had my momentum, so I cranked out another short piano piece, a sort of answer to the previous "In These Uncertain Times". This is what real uncertainty sounds like, not the music in those insipid ads.

The first 11 notes (2 bars) have been in my head for a while, and as they comprise a 3/4 + 5/8 beginning, I thought this could be the start of something to demonstrate uncertainty. The time signature is constantly shifting; two stretches of 3 bars each of 2/4 are the longest it goes without changing (and several pairs of 5/8). The harmony is based on fourths, similar in some respects to my much earlier Allegro in C., including a passing reference to its opening.

For a change, I think I'll have a post in which both the music and the words are brief. You're welcome.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

In These Uncertain Times

It's a stupid little phrase, uttered so often on so many commercials during the hostage crisis. When you're locked up, and there are fewer things to do, there's actually less uncertainty, not more. Also, all times have been uncertain, just in different ways, so I decided to write a little thing to make fun of the insipid piano music that accompanies most of these little nuggets of idiocy. If it doesn't sound mocking, it's because you don't know my feelings about Maj7 chords -- they're not exactly ugly, but to me, they sound weak. They're meant to be transitional chords, not the main event.

Let me backtrack a bit, though. I was back in the score that gave birth to the just posted Emergence, and as I may have mentioned before, I really like stacks of fifths. There are several ways to stack fifths, and one of those is to have two pairs of fifths with the bottom of second pair a major third (in this case, plus an octave) above the bottom of the first. When you do this, you get a Maj7 chord, here it is F Maj7. I wrote the first bar with that chord,then a single note before the second chord, and thought, "Yeah, this sounds like it could be on one of those "In These Uncertain Times" ads in which companies, instead of telling you why you should by their products, tell you that they care. Guess what? They really don't; they just think that if you think they care, you'll fall for their nonsense and buy their stuff regardless of whether it's not very good. And it must work, or they wouldn't keep doing it. Or maybe it really isn't very effective, and their marketing departments are run by morons. Maybe both.

Anyway, it's a throwaway little thing for piano, in boring old 4/4 time in F major with lots of Maj7 chords, written in a couple of hours, although being by me, it did have to spend some time in D minor. For the most part, it's just a calm little piece about the actual lack of uncertainty in these uncertain times.

Saturday, June 13, 2020


A second piece for orchestra in a row. And this time, it didn't take 9 years, only about two weeks. What happened is that I was working on another recently started orchestral piece, and had a passage for piano that I thought didn't quite fit and also might sound better with brass, so I started a score for brass ensemble, and was going happily along (briefly) until I realized that it needed more than just brass, so it ended up making its way into a new orchestral score the same day it had first surfaced in its original home. It's still predominantly brass, but I let other instruments get in on the fun... but without the piano.

It starts off in A minor, shifts into the relative major of C for a brief fanfare episode in the trombones and trumpet (in 6/8), then back to A minor (and 4/4) for most of the remainder, but when the fanfare material returns, instead of going to C Major again retaining the same key signature, it goes into A Major for a much brighter ending. Some of the woodwinds don't have much to do in this, but hey, at least they got into the game in what was initially going to be just brass.And the first bassoon has what is probably my favorite line in the whole piece. I could probably expand this into a much longer piece, but 5 minutes seemed sufficient to express what I wanted to right now. Maybe I'll come back to this.

As for the title, it possibly does mean what you might be thinking at the time of its composition. Or maybe not, depending on which particular events (or overreactions) you happen to have on your mind. I don't think I'll elaborate further on that, other than to say that it's definitely not about tearing things down.