PPD Day 30: Nobody Puts Becky in a Corner

Today's piece is for my husband Michael, in honor of the fact that he's put up with me for the past month. The title comes from a long-standing inside joke (well, I guess it won't be that for much longer) in which he deliberately misquotes a key line from the climax of the epic film Dirty Dancing. Yes, he knows that the line is really, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."  No, he doesn't care that he's saying it wrong. He's doing it on purpose. Deal with it.

And, of course, after this Swayze utters this line, the final dance is performed and Baby finally gets lifted triumphantly into the air.

I'm not gonna lie...I feel a little like that right now. This is it - a wrote a piece every day for a month, and I lived to tell the tale. There will be more tale to tell after I've had a chance to disengage for a bit and reflect on everything - but for the moment, this last piece is what happens when the final song from Dirty Dancing is cross-pollinated with Liszt.

For Michael...because I've had the time of my life/and I owe it all to you...

Download Nobody Puts Becky in a Corner


PPD Day 29: Catch the Midnight Drift

So last week, when I took to Facebook and Twitter and asked for some creative prompts to see me through this project, I got this tweet from Shana (@hipharpy):

She wasn't wrong.

I guess I never thought of myself as a "thrill of the rails" kind of person...but think aing in this vein led me to think about doing some kind of swaggery, saloon piano kind of thing. As Shana suggested, maybe I could "embrace my inner honky-tonk angel". I wasn't sure I had one of those either...but I do listen to a fair amount of Tom Waits, so that'll have to do.

Catch the Midnight Drift borrows its title from a line from the Tom Waits song "Drunk on the Moon" and it's general style from Waits's overall body of work. Owing to his frequent references to alcohol (The song "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" and the line "Stirring my brandy with a nail" from "Get Behind the Mule" come to mind), the pianist is asked to play as if he or she is "three beers in" by the end of the piece.

Download Catch the Midnight Drift.

PPD Day 28: Blood Moon

All the cool kids are talking about last night's Blood Moon. 

Here's my little response. The use of a bass drum beater striking the low strings of the piano creates a reverberant, gong-like effect. The melodic material is a borrowing and deconstruction of the opening piano figure of Mondestrunken ("Moondrunk"), the first movement of Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire.

Download Blood Moon

PPD Day 26: Elegy

This piece wasn't in the plans.

Last night, I found out that my friend Kent Leslie passed away. Kent was a killer horn player; I met him when he was hired to play the solo part on my dissertation piece, Chiasmus, a chamber concerto. He shared the stage with eighth blackbird...and if you'll pardon my French, he played the shit out of it. We became friends and kept in touch. He regaled me with stories about his dogs (all named after characters from Wagner operas). He introduced me to Scotch Eggs at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub when I was in Indianapolis (his home base). I cheered when his son made it to the National Spelling Bee. Kent would later commission me to write him another chamber piece - the result was ...sky is falling in... for flute, horn and percussion, which Kent included on his CD with every leaf, a miracleHe was a champion of new music for the horn, and his interest in my music meant more to me than I can say.




My favorite people tend to have eclectic tastes, and Kent was no exception. He loved Wagner (hence his dogs' names). And he loved Alice Cooper - to the point that Kent would email friends on Alice Cooper's birthday to make sure they marked the occasion. I wove tiny aspects of both Wagner and Alice Cooper into today's little Elegy. The opening gesture is loosely borrowed from the Alice Cooper instrumental "Grande Finale" (from 1972's School's Out). There are many descending half-steps throughout the piece - a nod to Wagner's use of that interval to symbolize grief. Finally, there's a fleeting (albeit incomplete) reference to the "Annunciation of Death" leitmotif from Die Walküre. 

Kent, I will dearly miss your musicianship and friendship. Rock on, my friend.

Download Elegy