dance dance dance (premiere, 9-15-18)




for Woodwind Quintet (Flute, Oboe, B-flat Clarinet, Horn in F, and Bassoon) Performed on September 15, 2018 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. by Niklas Rodewald (flute), Ken Watson (oboe), Natalie Pucillo (B-flat clarinet), Rebecca Hollister (horn), and Chris McFarlane (bassoon). "dance dance dance" is essentially a study in rhythm. Unconsciously, I sought to combine and play with the uneven and erratic rhythms of much ofStravinsky's music (such as "Le Sacre" and "Symphony of Psalms") with the strangely nervous reliability of much of minimalism (such as John Adams' "Common Tones in Simple Time" and "Short Ride in a Fast Machine"). The first movement utilizes metrical changes very "traditionally," at least in the sense that the changes from 3/8 to 5/8 to 2/8, etc. are meant to be "felt." This is achieved not only by a uniformity of pitch material (in the "A" sections, the Oboe,Clarinet, and Bassoon always play their respective "scales." The only thing that varies among the repetitions is how much of the scale they play), but also by the repeated and accented G in the Horn, which opens each new measure and welcomes each new time signature. The second movement is quite a bit different. The variation of meter is not meant to be "felt" in the same way. In general, small variations of longer note values are much more difficult to discern. I take advantage of this to produce a movement which is meant to be experienced "as is," unfolding with its own rhythm which is not necessarily equal to the metrical divisions. In a real sense, the metrical markings are only meant as suggestions in the achievement of an effect, and the effect is an expansive, open sound and rhythm, always flowing forward, not tied to any kind of "unnatural" temporal uniformity. The third and final movement kind of combines these two "modes" of rhythmic being. From the beginning, a very clear pulse is evident. In that sense it is like the opening movement. However, the ubiquity of this pulse does not always allow the listener to pick up on any kind of variation in meter, such as from 4/8 to6/8 and back. We don't really hear the music as a series of 4/8 bars, but rather asa succession of eighth notes which are (somewhat) arbitrarily divided metrically.In this way, the final movement is both visceral and expansive. It irregularly unfolds at a very consistent pulse. "dance dance dance" was written in early 2018 while I was reading the novel of the same title by Haruki Murakami and I saw a few relationships between the piece I was working on and some of the themes of Murakami’s book. In the early stages of the novel, the protagonist realizes he is searching for something, but he has no idea how to find it, and he receives the advice to “Dance. As long as the music plays.” Here, dancing is not meant as some formalized series of intricately arranged steps, but is, rather, the inconsistent and hazardous following of one’s intuition, the broken and erratic movements in pursuit of oneself. Each movement could be seen as different reflections on this theme: the first in a sort of unyielding and relentless way, the second quietly and mysteriously, and the third as a kind of joining of the two, both mysterious and extremely real and unsettling. My piece, while it does not reflect the dramatic structure of Murakami’s work, dances with the irregularity of life. And this dance lasts as long as the music plays. But it is a dance worth carrying on.