J. B., Curved in Places - Gravestone Canons #1 (1978) [12-15"]
4 or 3 Percussionists
Publisher: Soundlib Press
A percussion ensemble theatre piece.
One by one, the percussionists begin playing a two-part invention of randomly-selected Bach fragments, "spliced" into a binary form. Each begins at a set of orchestra bells and moves, in succession, to eight more instruments (xylophone, vibes, marimba, metalophone, woods, membranes, 2 timpani). During this, the music assembles and then shifts in pitch and timbre while remaining fixed and coordinated in form and tempo. Gradually, the pitches are subsumed into generalized rhythmic and metric contours. The coda quickly reverses the process: the players move back in canon as the pitches reemerge. This is number 1 of the Gravestone Canons series, but while E.V. is rather peaceful, J.B. is dynamic and virtuosic.
J.B., curved in places (1977) is one in a series of epitaph-compositions (called Gravestone Canons) which I have been producing since the early 70's. While different in medium, these works all exploit time-delayed overlaps and various forms of musical theatre. Each, as well, is a personal "love-note" to a dead musician. In this piece, one by one, the percussionists begin playing a two-part invention made of randomly-selected Bach fragments, spliced into a binary form. The music first assembles and then shifts in pitch and timbre while remaining fixed and coordinated in form. The pitches are then subsumed into larger rhythmic and metric contours. The coda quickly reverses the process, just before the point of "death".