November Salon Previews

Keith Eisenbrey

Corollaries

A common trope of music criticism is the idea that the structure that generates, or that is presumed to generate, a piece should be perceivable and understandable by a listener. With new or difficult music this often arises in the form of a protest: “Nobody could hear that!”, followed by a detailed story of exactly how it could not be heard. The response is usually in the form: “I can”, followed by a detailed story of exactly how it could be, and of exactly how, presumably, it was, in fact, heard. Years ago, listening to some early Stockhausen or other, I realized that the least interesting aspect of it, for me, was the fact that it happened to be twelve-tone. I asked myself then why exactly it should matter that the generating structure (the chart) should be what we understand or perceive the piece to be.

One of the underlying points made by Benjamin Boretz, in Meta-Variations: Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought is the notion that carefully analyzing our methods of thinking about music can reveal alternatives to those methods, and that in so doing new musical possibilities could be invented. I make no claim that I was the first to try this, but sometime in the 1990’s I asked myself what music might sound like if I redefined, for compositional purposes, the idea of the modular interval. In other words, what would happen if notes an octave apart weren’t treated as the same note, if some other interval were treated as generating matching pitch classes? Specifically I started inventing systems in which the modular interval (traditionally 12 semi-tones) was redefined to be 17 semi-tones (an octave plus a Perfect 4th). Since then I have written many of these “mod 17” pieces, using both content-determinate and order-determinate systems.

I have found that, in practice, thinking along these lines tends to loosen the ties between designed-in structures and my listening perception of what is going on in the music, often to the point where I doubt whether the chart could possibly be derived, even with careful analysis of the score, from the music itself. A problem, perhaps, just not my problem. For me it has been exhilarating. Among other things, it operates as a subtle fracturing of the idea of the note as the atom of musical thought, an exciting result.

In Corollaries I wondered what would happen if I took the 17 integer row I have been working with recently and, instead of applying it to the pitch-classes as a tone row, apply it instead to the intervals between pitches, as an “interval row”—ignoring, as it were, what the notes are as pitch-classes and shifting syntactic emphasis to the relations between them. Of course intervals, being relations and not objects, have some interesting qualities. Is it an interval up or an interval down? Is the inversion of the interval also fair game? For my first foray I decided to go as dirt simple as I could. For (Up’s Up) I present the interval row (in three interval-transpositions) as a series of intervals going up (flipping around to the bottom when I run out of keyboard). (Down’s Down) is the same but with descending intervals. (Up’s Down) are the inversions descending from top to bottom and (Down’s Up) are the inversions from bottom to top.

soundcloud.com/keith-eisenbrey

Daniel Webbon

St. Helena

St. Helena is a small and extremely remote island in the South Atlantic. It was used by the British as a waypoint during ocean crossings and is a prominent feature in Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Mason & Dixon. I have never visited St. Helena, and I probably never will, but Pynchon’s description left a powerful impression on me, particularly his line, “The Wind, brutal and pure, is there for its own reasons.” As I began to get a sense for this piece and where it wanted to go, this scene from Pynchon’s novel, this idea of constant wind, brutal and pure, resonated strongly with me.

In the piece, I deal with the issue of time as a constant, unavoidable parameter. I wanted to comment on the rather peculiar phenomena of the performer having a click-track which only they can hear and in doing so explore the idea of ever-present but rarely instantiated time.

soundcloud.com/daniel-webbon

Neil Welch

Exit Cycles

Saxophonist and composer Neil Welch will debut Exit Cycles—four brief compositions for tenor/soprano saxophones and mezzo-soprano vocalist. Neil will be joined by Danielle Sampson, a widely-acclaimed vocalist who recently moved to Seattle from San Francisco. Exit Cycles came to light while reading William Carlos Williams’ Kora in Hell, and Neil’s work here addresses the experience of entering into and exiting from the artistic process in day to day living.

neilwelch.com

Composers' Salon | Friday, November 4, 2016

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:

  • Keith Eisenbrey
  • Jeremy Shaskus
  • Daniel Webbon
  • Neil Welch

Friday, November 4, 2016, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 4th Floor
$5–15 suggested donation

September Salon previews

Sheila Bristow

"The Finding" and "Leap into Love", for mezzo-soprano, cello, and piano

Two songs from a cycle-in-progress, using poems about ecstatic dance from many cultures. "The Finding" is a contemporary Canadian poet's vision of a Sufi dance experience; "Leap into Love" is from the writings of 13th century mystic, Mechthild of Magdebourg. Performed by composer/pianist Sheila Bristow, mezzo-soprano Melissa Plagemann, cellist Nathan Whittaker.

sheilagailbristow.com

Carson Farley

Contrasts for piano, violin, flute, and cello

carsonicsproductions.com

Jessi Harvey

"Pieces of the Puzzle" is the second movement of my piano work, Eden Untamed, inspired by a speech about the issues faced and burdens borne by the 20th century composer and dedicated to Scott Muller. Continuing on from the first movement, "Themes Amuck", one of the original themes is warped and split into multiple pieces, recombined, and put back together.

soundcloud.com/masterjgeorge

Ian McKnight

Airship Pirates!

I composed my newest piece as if it were the score to a movie set in the steampunk universe. Steampunk is a recent fantasy and alternate history genre that imagines what would have happened if technology had progressed faster during the Victorian era. It is characterized by crazy inventions and flying contraptions usually powered by steam.

This piece imagines a flying pirate airship. The piece starts quietly at the dock as the pirates prepare the ship. The sounds of machinery and workers become louder as the ship becomes ready to take flight. When the ship finally breaks above the clouds there is a moment of peace as the airship floats through the air. The pirates come upon another unsuspecting airship. The music becomes increasingly intense as they approach the other ship and attack. At the end, the pirates celebrate their victory with a drunken dance.

ianmcknight.bandcamp.com

Composers' Salon | Friday, September 2, 2016

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:

  • Sheila Bristow
  • Carson Farley
  • Jessi Harvey
  • Ian McKnight

Friday, September 2, 2016, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 4th Floor
$5–15 suggested donation

July Salon Previews

Susan Maughlin Wood

Sonatina for Violin and Piano, Parallel Plaid
I. Stim
II. Transist
III. Off Script

Spectratta
"We are all on the spectrum."

The inner world is complete unto itself, but invites understanding. I am adding a video element to my new sonatina Parallel Plaid to highlight ways in which people* anywhere on the ASD and so-called ADHD spectrums (i.e. everyone) both identify with, and to some extent are, ourselves, wind-up toys going about our lives single-mindedly. Focus is absolute, but fleeting in its direction. Intensity is laser-sharp, but short-lived and not easily controlled.

*the complexity of people defies labeling, but insofar as labels exist, the spectrum model (think prismatic solid circle as opposed to single line) most closely represents our differences within a given shared aspect of humanity. For every aspect, the spectrum model is inclusive and shows that everyone shares certain traits and only differ in the degree to which they possess those traits and the degree to which their particular combination of traits aids and/or hinders them in their everyday lives.

For the most part, piano is parent, violin is child.

Stim

violin establishes footing solo on the tonic
pizzicato is the inner world “stimming," arco is outside interaction
dissonant, percussive movement
violin repeatedly reaching out and immediately returning to tonic
piano has perfect fifths but shifting key center up and down 1/2 steps
    trying to help violin get bearings… takes brief melodic stroll
first interval is augmented 4th then overreaches to M6th, then m6
    and finally finds the fifth representing normality
arco section = willing to engage,
brief extroversion then runs out of words so
retreats back into pizz inner world
very brief movement

Transist

= transformation, resistance, movement, growth
single minded in pursuit of goal
going about the day
wind picks up, holding onto flower
dramatic upset at trivial change in routine
parent checks in on child occasionally

Off Script

= gaining independence
high energy tango feel
but too quirky to dance to
near end: brief return to original pizzicato motif as comfort (stim)
    before coda dives into high, inverted, loud version of
    main statement and riffing, fragmenting, punctuating
    right up until the emphatic end

punchbeam.com

 

Jeremiah Lawson

Studies in Harmonics 7-12

From 1998 to 2016, I composed 12 studies for solo guitar exploring what was compositionally possible if I restricted myself to only the notes that can be played as harmonics. Studies 1-6 are original compositions while studies 7-12 are arrangements of traditional Christian hymns, suitable not only as etudes but as interludes in liturgical settings.

youtube.com/JeremiahLawson

 

Jay Hamilton

The title is a surprise to be revealed after the performance but I will give you the subtitle:

For Houdini who did not believe but wanted to Cello solo suite in a bunch of sections (7?)

soundand.com

 

S. Eric Scribner

There will be two short musique-concrète works. The first piece is called Phase Canon no. 1, the second, Eco Slab Gong.

Both of these are "remixes" of material done by friends of mine originally. The Phase Canon is not a Star Trek weapon, but a treatment of a flute improvisation by Ginny Landgraf—made into a canon that goes through "phasing" as in repetitive minimalism, though there is a twist. This could probably be notated and performed live, though it would take extremely precise micro-timing and micro-tuning. Eco Slab Gong is acoustically processed: a hailstorm recorded by Jonathon Storm, projected by loudspeakers onto the slab gong. The resonances from the gong were recorded and multi-tracked in a similar manner to the Phase Canon.

soundcloud.com/s-eric-scribner

soundcloud.com/steve-scribner

Composers' Salon | Friday, July 8, 2016

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers:

  • Jay Hamilton
  • Jeremiah Lawson
  • Susan Maughlin Wood
  • S. Eric Scribner

Friday, July 8, 2016, 8 pm
Chapel Performance Space
4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 4th Floor
$5–15 suggested donation