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Status update (expanded edition)

As others have noted: the rise of The Facebook and The Twitter has made notebook-ing significantly more difficult. Because let’s face it, if one has something interesting to say, you can probably say it in one or two sentences. And, even more likely, in 140 characters. But since one of my current projects is shaping up into something intriguing enough that describing it won’t actually fit into the “What are you doing now?” box, my in-progress report lands here.

The piece (after several discarded options) will be titled De Profundis, the Latin incipit from the first line of Psalm 130, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord…” This is probably the 487th piece of music to carry that title (Mr. Mozart wrote a pretty good one) — just one of several good reasons why others were floated — but ultimately I decided that going with anything else was doing the thing a disservice. The work actually uses the de profundis plainchant. (Due to thorough indoctrination in the “plainchant” terminology in college musicology classes, even now I suppress a gag reflex when “Gregorian chant” is used instead.)

The work was commissioned by the Central Oklahoma Band Director’s Association for their honor band festival this January. You might notice, their front page there has a helpful countdown clock to the Clinic, thus providing me with a clear, pressure-less visual to assist my completing the work in a timely manner. Thanks, guys.

The student ensemble premiering the work (under the guest direction of my friend Jeff Gershman) will be enormous. A sea of flutes. An (ocean?) of clarinets. A (hmm, prairie?) of saxophones…you get the idea. And so my initial idea for the piece was to use the large-ness for maximum bang, and write only stuff that works best with a crowded stage. This is not a new idea by any means, but it’s quite effective. Especially with lots of aleatory, big crunchy chords, and an evocative image like “Out of the depths I cry to you”. The end result seems to be turning into a Henryk-Górecki-meets-Warren-Benson-while-John-Corigliano-drives-by-waving-frantically kind of thing.

So to speak.

Here’s a page of the short score.

See, up there, at the top? That’s the Górecki. And down there at the bottom–there’s the Corigliano. The Benson comes later.

You are what you eat, people. Choose with care.

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