a forty-four smokeless was commissioned by Zeitgeist with funds from the American Composers Forum Jerome Commissioning Program in 2007. The ensemble requested a composition with five-string banjo; composer Paul Elwood wrote the banjo part for himself, and the piece is based on the Appalachian folk tune Little Sadie. Little is known about the factual events in the song about a man named Lee Brown who dispassionately murders a woman named Little Sadie. It is thought the events occurred in North Carolina because that is the only place where a town named Thomasville is only 60 miles from a town named Jericho, where Brown, in the song, says he ran after the murder. It is a curious tune in which the murderer expresses no remorse – and no reason for the killing is given. One verse of the song, not used in this composition, says “ Forty one days, forty one nights, forty one years to wear the ball and the stripes; I’ll be here for the rest of my life, and all I done was kill my wife.” In spite of the dark nature of the text, as is the case with many folk songs, the tune has entered the common repertoire of many bluegrass and old-time bands. Some melodic and harmonic material in the composition is derived from Little Sadie, but the piece also wanders freely amongst other musical material exploring the coloristic and harmonic combinations of the diverse instruments in the ensemble. The composition is dedicated to Zeitgeist.Continue reading “Paul Elwood: a forty-four smokeless”
Co-written in 2010 by Victor Zupanc and Kevin Kling, For the Birds is a concert length work that, on the surface, seems to be about birds. It features a series of musical pieces extolling the nature of each particular bird (sparrows, roosters, woodpeckers, Canadian geese, hawks), drawing parallels with our own human nature. Interspersed between, is insightful storytelling created by Kling reflecting on childhood memories, immigration, illness, accidents, and healing. However, just below the surface (but discernible to those that look), For the Birds is a work about that part of our human nature that compels us to reach beyond ourselves for more —more opportunity for our family, more money, more fun, more speed, more knowledge, more love. When all goes well, we call that need aspiration. When it doesn’t, and we plunge to the earth with melting wings, we call it hubris. Through utterly delightful music and a worldview only Kevin Kling can provide, For the Birds gives us the space to contemplate our nature, laugh at ourselves, and heal. Continue reading “Victor Zupanc & Kevin Kling: For the Birds”
by Scott Miller
SIGNATURE ONE: A MENDELSSOHN FANTASY (1980) by Homer Lambrecht was commissioned by the Jerome Foundation for Zeitgeist and received its premiere at Carnegie Recital Hall October 18, 1980 in New York.
“Music spans time in history; the movement of time also articulates the form and substance of music. Patterns of movement form streams of rhythm, flow of harmonic motion, and currents of timbre. These patterns also reveal the spiritual substance of the composer and his cultural heritage. To find patterns that connect my time with the past is the origin of SIGNATURE ONE. Techniques common to today’s music are used to transform ‘Adieu,’ one of Mendelssohn’s ‘Songs Without Words.’” Continue reading “Homer Lambrecht: Signature One: Mendelssohn Fantasy”
MUSIC FOR KLEIST (1980) by Zeitgeist
In the collectively composed MUSIC FOR KLEIST, severe changes in mood reflect the character of Kleist’s life and work (particularly a short story entitled “Earthquake in Chile,” which provided the dramatic frame for the composition). Dramatic, expressionistic gestures are contrasted with serene, almost euphoric passages.
SPINNGEWEBE (1976) by Tristan Fuentes was inspired by the way a spider weaves its web, first spinning a framework and then adding the spiral. Written for Zeitgeist, the piece was premiered July 25, 1980.
THIS (1980) by James DeMars
THIS (a contracrostipunctus) for Frederic Rzewsky and Douglas Hofstadter IS an opportunity to adJUST to circles of reference and TIME, because a variety of “meanings” are available in (this) unusual interplay of an invertible text AND a looping melody which apparently refer to each and YOU; however, if you TAKE your TIME (AND you are) YOU may HEAR JUST both, which is MUSIC, which IS an opportunity to adJUST to circles of reference and TIME, because a variety of “meanings” are available in (this) unusual interplay of Continue reading “James DeMars: This”
PATTERN STUDY #2 by Stacey Bowers, dedicated to the Blackearth Percussion Group, was written in 1976. The score is a set of several melodic patterns, to be played in any order, repeated as often as desired, and used as a basis for improvisation. The form emerges from the resultant improvisation.
Stacey Bowers was born in 1952 in Wisconsin, USA. Early in his career he was a percussionist and pianist with the Blackearth Percussion Group and held teaching positions at Northern Illinois University and the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music. He is currently an executive with Woodstock Percussion, Inc., based in the New York Hudson Valley.
PATTERN STUDY #2 appears on Zeitgeist’s album BOWERS/DEMARS/STOCKHAUSEN; originally released 1980, re-released 2015.
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Set Sail for the Sun (1968)
by Karlheinz Stockhausen
SET SAIL FOR THE SUN by Karlheinz Stockhausen is from the set Aus den Sieben Tagen, written in May of 1968 in California. It is realized from verbal instructions rather than a traditional notation. Continue reading “Karlheinz Stockhausen: Set Sail for the Sun”
Premonitions of Christopher Columbus (1979)
by James DeMars
PREMONITIONS of CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS by James DeMars was premiered by Zeitgeist at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in October of 1979. This recording uses five musicians playing alto saxophone, two pianos, tablas, marimba, cymbals, and a tam tam. The form is similar to that of the Moroccan “nuba” tradition, in which a pulse gradually emerges to support melodic material. The eclectic blend of idioms and sonorities produces a paradoxical “state of being” as each gesture draws forward. Continue reading “James DeMars: Premonitions of Christopher Colmbus”