Phoenix, 2/28/10

I’m going to live-blog this thing out of sheer frustration.

10:16: cheesy setting of I feel so helpless, but right now I’m feeling it. Setting All the familiar doctors/Touching the familiar folds is a brick wall.

10:21: got a rhythm worked out for All the familiar doctors/Touching the familiar folds. Now I have to segue from the pattern I’ve set up in I feel so helpless to something that will bear up under the lengthy line. Lengthy, however, is a good thing: I have only about 3:00 so far, and the piece has to be 4:00 at least. Who knew all this collapsed into so tiny a timeframe?

11:06: A death spiral phrase written. This simply has to be longer, so I’m going to break up the phrase and repeat it in fragments, actually setting up/anticipating the breakup of the water coda.

12:01: It’s patched together. I’m going to go have some lunch, then listen to it again afterwards. It almost coheres.

2:30: Lunch, Kroger, and now I’m in the back yard. I’ll share what I’ve got. Comment at will. I still have to construct a piano reduction, and there are some automations in Finale which will do most of that for me, print it, and mail it. They suggest a CD with a MIDI realization. I might do that, too.

“Phoenix”: PDF score, mp3 soundfile

It is four minutes long by the grace of unwarranted repetition. The last measure’s infinite repeat in particular nudges it over the four minute mark.

The knowledge that Mozart never felt this way in his entire life is very annoying to me. The fact that I have outlived him by twenty years is hardly consolation.

On a side note, I am ready for it to be a great deal warmer. I am weary of sitting in my labyrinth and feeling cold air on my body. I want the caress of the sun. Have another Carlsson’s Gold, Dale. Thank you, I will.

In another thirty minutes I need to go in and hammer out the piano reduction, then start the coq au vin we’re having for the Olympics Closing Ceremony Feast.

Well, at least I have a good start on my Lichtenbergian goal of churning out a great deal of crap. I wonder how much of this piece I can steal for next week’s continuation of the bassoon/string quartet? Discuss.

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update: Here’s the piano playing the piece. It’s almost tolerable here. Piano [mp3] (There are some minor changes from the score/mp3 above. One of them is fiendish.)

7 thoughts on “Phoenix, 2/28/10

  1. The text is so… weird. “Doctors” and “same familiar folds” makes me think of a prostate exam. There, I said it. Regardless. I like the clouds part, its really really nice, I love the way it floats, its really enjoyable. I think its interesting the dissonance that you gave to the tenors and basses when they sing the D against the C, I think its interesting. I love the piano part. As bad as you think this is, I still think its anything better than I could do. Keep me posted!

  2. I just listened to the piano part, and just a bit of the vocal. There were portions of it I really liked (and not in a “how interesting” sort of way). I would love to sit down with you and talk through a listen. There were parts that sounded, and forgive the choice of words, untruthful. I use that word because it’s the only one that feels accurate. You know what they say, those who can, do, those who can’t become critics.

  3. I agree, Turff. Before I send it out again (later this month, I think), I’m going to try to jigger those parts.

  4. It was an attempt at a mystical articulation, to the extent that mystical articulations may be inherently “feminine,” hence the vague arousal of oddness and disgust (and subtle violence?).

    I, too, feel that Turff may be on to something.

  5. OK, I’ll go first.

    • The opening phrase is too obviously and deliberately “weird.” It is better on the repetition when the altos and tenors join in, but it is not organic.
    • The entrance of the basses on “I don’t want” is too heavy. It sticks out like a sore thumb.
    • “at a funereal dance” is very clumsy, especially after the lovely dovetailed “I want to be something” phrase. Part of it is the scansion of the word “funereal,” but I think the music just needs to be reworked there.
    • I love the “restraint” phrase. It just works. I think I want to rework the opening of the piece using this phrase instead of the present fakey caterwauling.
    • When the tenor line does the falling third thing on “The sky scares me,” it keeps sounding like “neener-neener” to me.
    • I think the structural idea in the “graceless hands” sequence is right, but I’m not sure the melody is.
    • The whole “clouds” thing is so unexpected that it’s good.
    • The second “What to do?” is cute. If asked, I will deny referencing Wagner’s “Fate” theme; it’s from Spontini’s “La Vestale,” when Licinius steals into the temple where Julia is guarding the flame. “Julia…” Same chords. Honest.
    • Again, the structure of “I feel so helpless” is probably right, but the notes need some adjustment.

    Did I miss anything?

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