Last night I put the finishing touches on two miniature pieces that will be combined with work from other composers into something larger. Along with doing Fibonacci’s Glass Cage a couple of months ago for Third Coast Percussion with 100 other composers (and let’s not forget #Armada), this is becoming a thing I really enjoy.
The first of the two pieces is called Meanwhile, Somewhere in Orbit…. It’s for prepared piano, and is two minutes long. All of the details and a recording are here, but basically a few composers at UCSB and I got together to write a suite to be performed as an intermezzo during Patricia von Blumröder‘s performance of John Cage’s complete Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. The suite is collectively titled The DOLF[i]N Suite, a title made of the first letter of all of our names (with an i interjected for intermezzo), and also selected because Ory saw a dolphin earlier that day.
The second is, at least for me, titled Vexation, and is a set of variations (all played simultaneously) on Erik Satie’s twenty-four hour piano epic, Vexations. The Generous Ensemble commissioned me and a whole load of other composers (like 100, maybe?) to write short (very short) variations for their instrumentation, which they are combining into a big, 45 minute kind of deal. Sounds like it’s going to be rad, and they’ll certainly be recording it so I’ll post that here when it’s available. Here’s a video of a rehearsal of the piece:
So why do I get such a kick out of this? For one thing, it’s the nature of the pieces. Almost no matter what each individual composer’s music sounds like, the pieces are going to have a very diverse collection of sounds, textures, and styles, often changing quite quickly and in quite a nutty way, which I personally enjoy. For another, it’s fun and interesting – and dare I say educational, or at least creatively enriching – to see what other composers have done when given the same prompt or source material. On top of that, in a half-baked sociophilosophical sense, collaboration is totally, like, good for society man. You get what I mean though. We’re all in this together, and it’s awesome to get to work with others, sometimes with others who I never would have had contact with otherwise, to create something new. Finally, there’s the rather large perk of cross-promotion. Anyone who goes to one of these concerts to hear one of their friends’ works is going to hear my work, and vice versa. And there’s no way in hell I’d be having my music performed at the Kennedy Center (YET) or the Museum of Modern Art (YET) without having jumped into these projects. So really…yeah, let’s keep up the collaborating!