What Justice Looks Like is an invocation to Esther Hobart Morris, the first female judge in America. It's for solo voice with optional percussion and drone. The piece is Valentine's Day in A Book of Days.
On the Battlefield is inspired by a visit I made to the Vicksburg National Military Park as I was travelling down the Mississippi River. The piece is for solo brass or wind player with live processing and video. The spoken part can be performed live or pre-recorded. The piece is November 23rd in A Book of Days.
Enough Holes is a short solo piano hommage to Philip Glass. It responds to a piece Glass made with Foday Musa Suso for a 1989 production of The Screens, by Jean Genet. The piece is May 2nd in A Book of Days.
Play Like a Girl is a set of eight keyboard variations on the Bulgarian Women's Chorus standard, Kaval Sviri. Some work well on grand piano, others on toy piano or celeste or harpsichord or other "girly" instruments, I'm open. The variations can be played simultaneously or successively in any combination for a total of eight factorial versions of the piece. I have posted twelve different versions of the piece in A Book of Days, on the 13th of each month. You can listen there to get a sense of the possibilities.
Light up Your face is a piece about the murder of Medgar Evers on 12 June 1963. For actor, singer, and piano or ensemble, the piece includes an excerpt from Eudora Welty’s story from the point of view of the murderer against a harmonization of the chant version of the refrain of Psalm 80. The piece is June 12th A Book of Days.
13one is a solo trombone piece that was written for Will Lang in celebration of John Cage's 100th birthday. Each performance of the piece is determined by the using the I Ching to choose the notes. The piece is September 5th in A Book of Days.
Pump Music is a piece for violin, trombone quartet, and pre-recorded track. It was inspired by a series of hand pumps I encountered in campsites while traveling down the Mississippi River in 2009. The piece is August 1st in A Book of Days.
The Island of the Sirens is a piece for vocalist and three additional singers or instrumentalists, with pre-recorded electronics. It was inspired by a warning siren I encountered in Plaquemine, Louisiana, while traveling down the Mississippi River in 2009. The text, by Rainer Maria Rilke, is about the difficulty of describing an experience to those who haven't shared it. The piece is December 10th in A Book of Days.
Well-Spent is a piece for one or two violins and pre-recorded track. It is a response to a text about rivers by Leonardo and grew out of my journey down the Mississippi River in 2009. The piece is April 19th in A Book of Days.
Einhorn is a piece for natural horn or modern horn playing on the F harmonic series. The piece is inspired by a very sexy poem about the impossible reality of unicorns. The piece is September 29th in A Book of Days.
Did he promise you tomorrow? is a piece for at least six instruments and/or voices. The title is something a woman named Carla asked me in a bar at the end of my journey down the Mississippi River. The piece is February 7th in A Book of Days.
Waiting for Billy Floyd is a chamber piece originally written for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, inspired by Eudora Welty's story, At the Landing, which takes place in the ghost town of Rodney, Mississippi. The piece is one of a series responding to my journey down the Mississippi River in 2009.
Early in the Morning is an ensemble piece inspired by the Persian poet Sa'di, based on a work chant Alan Lomax recorded on Parchman Farm in the 1930s, with a percussion track recorded in the middle of the night in Iowa. The piece is one of a series responding to my journey down the Mississippi River in 2009.
Testy Pony is a piece for spoken voice, viola, cello, or trombone, and pre-recorded track. The poem is by Zachary Schomburg. The piece is one of a series responding to my journey down the Mississippi River in 2009. The piece is October 12th in A Book of Days.
In and Out of the Game is a piece for four or more trombones, pre-recorded electronics, and optional video. It was made in response to my journey down the Mississippi River in 2009. The piece is October 17th in A Book of Days.
I'm worried now, but I won't be worried long is a piece for violin and electronics. It can also be performed with additional musicians on guitar, bass, strings, etc. The piece is September 6th in A Book of Days.
I am really a very simple person is currently a piece for mixed chorus. It is the first piece I completed after kayaking and biking down the Mississippi River in 2009. I can imagine instrumental versions of the piece as well: let me know your ideas. The piece is January 6th in A Book of Days.
The Flood is for flexible instrumentation. It is a setting of a poem by Robert Frost, and it is one piece in a projected evening-length project about floods and transformation. It is October 22nd in A Book of Days.
Brownie Feet is for vocal or string quartet along with drums and/or laptop or turntables. It is a mashup of Bach and NOLA brass bands, and it is one piece in a projected evening-length project about floods and transformation. The piece is is September 3rd in A Book of Days.
Liement me deport is for three-part treble chorus (or three individual singers) with pre-recorded track. It is the latest piece in my series, Machaut in the Machine Age, and adds a little Charlie Chaplin to the mix. The piece is is September 17th in A Book of Days.
Sang is for large mixed chorus with percussion and santur. It is a setting of a parable from the Shahnameh, the 10th century Persian epic by Ferdowsi, and also includes texts from the Hebrew scriptures.
Osculati Fourniture is for alto or tenor voice or instrument plus pre-recorded setars. It is a Book of Days piece for January 24th. If you like, the pre-recorded music can be played in multi-channel surround.
It Happens Like This, for cello and actor, sets the recitation of a poem by James Tate against an adaptation of a traditional Persian chaharmezrab melody and dance rhythm. It is July 6th in A Book of Days. There is now a trio version of the piece for violin, viola and actor, which could also be adapted for string quartet.
Take Your Joy is for SATB chorus and pre-recorded electronics. It uses a text from the Gospel of John, the Christmas day introit Puer natus est nobis, and the sounds of an olive-tree warbler. The piece is April 6th in A Book of Days.
All U Got 2 Do was inspired by a sermonette by Reverend Milton Brunson. Along with the introduction to the Benedictus of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. Originally written for Hammond organ, it can also be played on violin. Other instruments might work as well. The piece is Aug 3rd in A Book of Days.
the bus driver didn't change his mind was written for the Bang on a Can All-Stars (clarinet, guitar, cello, bass, piano, percussion, and electronics) and is a secret setting of a poem by Taslima Nasrin. It is the Book of Days piece for August 22nd.
Five Things was written for spoken voice, flute, and bassoon (or bass clarinet or baritone sax) with optional woodblock, but it has been performed by other instrumentalists as well. It's a setting of a Song Dynasty Zen lesson and it's November 14th in A Book of Days. There is a video for this piece by Judson Wright.
Fireside is for a solo pianist who speaks as well as plays. The text is a poem Ruth Crawford wrote when she was thirteen years old. The piece was commissioned in 2001 by pianist Sarah Cahill in celebration of Ruth Crawford Seeger's centennial. It is December 30th in my ongoing project, A Book of Days.
Cave is for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, keyboard (or piano and vibes), spoken voice, and electronics. The text is by Eileen Myles. There is an optional video for this piece by Clifton Taylor. Cave is July 3rd in A Book of Days.
All Ways was originally written for voice and piano, but the accompaniment has five conceptual lines, so it can be flexibly adapted for voice and chamber ensemble. The text is from Stephen King's novel, It. All Ways is November 27th in A Book of Days.
Until it Blazes is an amplified solo for keyboard or guitar with live processing, but it has been performed on flute, vibes, and other instruments as well. There is an optional video for this piece by Cory Arcangel. Until It Blazes is April 15th in A Book of Days.
Do Not Be Concerned is a piece for MIDI keyboard with spoken word. The text is from the gnostic Gospel of Thomas. It was the first piece I made specifically for A Book of Days; it is February 21st. There is an optional video for the piece as well.
Not Worth is a song about riches and glory. Or not. The text is my adaptation of Confucius; the original instrumentation is soprano (or tenor), two bass clarinets, viola, cello, and bass. But of course I'm flexible about instrumentation. There's a bit of improv for the singer at the end of the piece. Not Worth is February 3rd in A Book of Days.
Lament is a piece for bass clarinet and piano (preferably out-of-tune and badly maintained.) If you would like to perform a text in counterpoint to the piece, that would probably work. Lament is March 30th in A Book of Days.
Play Nice was written for harpist Elizabeth Panzer, but it can also be played on toy piano by one (or two) people. If you want to play it on some other instrument, I'm likely to be fine with that.
Wonder Counselor is a piece for one or two organs or synths and pre-recorded sound. Originally written to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American Guild of Organists, it is February 4th in A Book of Days.
Landscaping for Privacy was originally written for spoken voice and an arpeggiated keyboard. The text is by Linda Norton. There's a version for acoustic piano, spoken voice, and pre-recorded tape, and also an ensemble version.
FlamingO is for an orchestra divided into three simultaneous bands, with samplers and pre-recorded electronics.
Wolf Chaser is for amplified and processed scordatura violin, optional percussion, and pre-recorded electronics. There is a video by Vittoria Chierici which can accompany performances of the piece.
Baby-Angel Barcarolle was commissioned by the New England Conservatory Preparatory Division to be a piece for two young violinists to play. You are welcome to play it on other instruments if you like. Baby-Angel Barcarolle is December 16th in A Book of Days.
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell is for voice, flute, soprano sax, oboe, bassoon, electric guitar, bass, piano, and percussion. It is a setting of three proverbs by William Blake. The last section can also be performed as a standalone piece called Enough for voice, bass, and piano.
Born Dancin' is for amplified and processed cello and drum machine. The piece is based on a really excellent story by Donald Barthelme.
The Garden of Cyrus is for four electric guitars. I suppose it could be for amplified string quartet also, now that I'm thinking about it. If you like, you can add a drummer playing Meg White's drum part from the song Little Room. Totally your call. It's my birthday in A Book of Days.
Spherical Music is for twelve marimba players playing six marimbas, but it can also be done by a single marimba player with the other marimba parts pre-recorded. It's possible to consider playing it on other instruments as well. Spherical Music is March 3rd in A Book of Days.
A Big Enough Umbrella is for solo viola, string orchestra, and two dueling synth basses. The piece can be performed all-live or with pre-recorded strings and basses. A Big Enough Umbrella is September 19th in A Book of Days.
Michael's Spoon is for mixed chamber ensemble, or for two low brass instruments with pre-recorded track. It was inspired by the last paragraph of J. M. Coetzee's novel, The Life and Times of Michael K. Michael's Spoon is February 9th in A Book of Days.
Machaut in the Machine Age I: Douce dame jolie is a piece for piano and percussion, or for mixed chamber ensemble. It is the first in a series of pieces inspired by the music and poetry of Guillaume de Machaut. Machaut in the Machine Age I is March 17th in A Book of Days.