Map of Found Memories for Percussion and String Quartet (A few pithy presidential quotes) (2015, ca. 13 min).
M.B. Gordy, Percussion and the Lyris Quintet.
Scenes from Lemuria, Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet (ca. 14 min).
Eric Jacobs, Clarinet and the Lyris Quintet.
Vocalise, Duofor Violin and Cello (ca. 7 min., 2014).
Alyssa Park, violiin and Timothy Loo, cello.
Time Cycles for Alto Voice and String Quartet (12:30, 2013). With Lyrics by Lois Becker. In three movements: Hurricane Housekeeping, The Mayfly Rag, The Turning of the Seasons. Premiered by Moira Smiley and the California String Quartet.
BLUE-GREEN CONFLUENCE for cello and piano (10:30, 2012).
Confluence, according to Miriam Webster:
1: a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point.
2: a) the flowing together of two or more streams b) the place of meeting of two streams c) the combined stream formed by conjunction.
Flow: the confluence of cello and piano. Dedicated to Alexander Suleiman and Delores Stevens.
Premiered by Roger Wilkie (vln.), Antonio Lysy (vc.) and Delores Stevens (pno.). Music & Conversations Dec. 13, 2008.
The piece's title describes the shape of its ubiquitous theme. This is what happens when I can't get an idea out of my mind. It may hide, lurk behind trees and around corners, but it can leap out at any time. It may be fierce, sweet, friendly, romantic, sassy; it puts on Sunday clothes and makes nice. My mission has been to give this theme its own organic 'dance of life'.
Review: "Very accessible but jam-packed with musical imagination, the piece is based on a figure played out over and over again in a myriad of complex variations. The violin part was great, and Roger Wilkie was particularly strong. It almost seemed outside of most contemporary classical idioms, as if it were influenced by both Schubert and rock music. If there is a range of contemporary classical music, from easy to hard, from John Corigliano to Elliott Carter, from Christopher Theofanidis to Microtonal to Spectral, I don’t know where this piece would fall. To a programmer, I suppose it might be a little like Jennifer Higdon. But all I could think of is: “What would Menahem Pressler do with this?!!” It should be played!" Thomas Aujero Small, ConcertoNet.com
The StarSail image was suggested by New York artist-photographer Bo Parker to NASA many years ago: a huge glistening sail made of gold leaf which is so light that it could rotate the earth indefinitely, powered by solar energy. StarSail would be literally uplifting--an art symbol which would raise millions of eyes to the heavens.
NASA was nonplused, but the concept launched a collaboration with New York dance company Randance and choreographer Randall Faxon-Parker. That was many years ago, and for some reason I recently had the idea of using the thematic material as the motivic source for a piano trio.
All of the music here is new and very different from the original, except for the final “theme”--the last ca.1 1/2 minutes, arranged for this ensemble.
Premiered by Delores Stevens (pno.) and Nick Terry (marimba).
Who could think about the marimba without images of Africa coming to mind? And what images of Africa do not include elephants? Section titles: Baby Elephant Walks, Beasts of the jungle, Stalked but Unaware, Trapped!, Life is Hard for a Working Elephant, Escape, Baby Elephant in Love, Coda.
Premiered by Susan Greenberg (fl.), John Hayhurst (vla.), Armen Ksajikian (cello), and Delores Stevens (pno.) Music & Conversations, Los Angeles June 17, 2006. Dedicated to Ms. Stevens and Ms. Greenberg.
Not inspired by, but perfectly described by Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem, Mont Blanc (1817) first stanza:
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark--now glittering--now, reflecting gloom
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters--with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap forever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.
Premiered by William Powell (cl.), Mark Menzies and Eric Clark (vlns.), Nancy Uscher (vla.) and Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick (vc.) in REDCAT/Disney Hall, Los Angeles Mar. 14, 2006.
Many years ago, Bill Powell gave me a recording of an amazing improvisation he did, which he had labeled, “From Lemuria”. Lemuria, I learned, was an ancient mythical place which disappeared into the sea much like Atlantis, but in Lemuria, the arts and creativity were the focus of civilization. Bill’s improvisation, done completely extemporaneously, seemed to be pulling magic out of the ether.
That’s really what composition (and perhaps all creativity) seems to be. We study and theorize about much pre-existing music, but when composing becomes ‘flow’, it’s almost as if one is accessing information on another plane.
Based on a relentless 5-note theme, which even exerts its tyranny over the meter of the piece--which is also relentless.For some reason, 5 has been neglected in music--we have lots of 2, 3, 4 and even 6. Yet 5 is tremendously important to humans. Besides the number of our fingers and toes, we have 5 senses. Leonardo's Microcosmic Man features man as five-pointed star inside a circle, and harks back to the star as ancient symbol of man. In the middle ages, you could use the power of 5 to dispell evil spirits, witches and goblins--if you needed to... For Pythagoras, 5 was the sum of the feminine element of 2 plus the masculine element of 3. There are so many other examples.Now you can forget all of this, and just enjoy the ride! JB
Commissioned by Chamber Music Palisades--Delores Stevens, Susan Greenberg with Steve Erdody. Premiered Jan. 2004. Just recorded (Dec. 2005) for an AIX Records DVD Ms. Greenberg, Ms. Stevens (Chamber Music Palisades), and Peter Stumpf (Principal Cellist, Los Angeles Philharmonic).
FANTASY ON A VOODOO RHYTHM for alto saxophone, cello, and piano (9:30, 2003/2006). Cello version of Fantasy on a Vodoun Rhythm (with violin). Sorry, clip not up yet,YouTube video of violin version is just below.
The Voodoo rhythm heard throughout this work is something I discovered almost fifteen years ago after a trip to New Orleans inspired me to research Voodoo. And here, I have tried to capture the energy and excitement of that indigenous music--in a context that is purely mine. JB
The Vodoun rhythm heard throughout this work is something I discovered almost fifteen years ago after a trip to New Orleans inspired me to research Voodoo. And here, I have tried to capture the energy and excitement of that indigenous music--in a context that is purely mine. JB
NIBIRU TRIO excerpts: group 1, group 2 for clarinet, violin and piano (16:00, 1999). The Titan Trio: Ernest Salem, William Powell and Cynthia Williams. Nibiru is the best kept secret in our solar system. An exotic tone poem based on Sumerian legend (ca. 2800BCE). For the Titan Trio.
NIBIRU TRIO, arrangement for alto saxophone, violin and piano (16:00, 2001). Nibiru is the best kept secret in our solar system. An exotic tone poem based on Sumerian legend (ca. 2800BCE). For James Umble and the Cleveland Duo.
SHADOWS (excerpt), Duo for Flute and Clarinet (6:00, 1982). Nancy Harman, fl. and David Harman, cl. The tradition of imitation which has historically inspired two voice music can be likened to an object and its shadow--continually evident in this composition. At times, the instrumental identities become obscured, and one is not certain which instrument is playing which line. The subtle shadow of Kundry's leitmotiv from Richard Wagner's Parsifal can also be sensed throughout the work. For David and Nancy Harman. Has been in the touring repertoire of the New Music Consort, New York City.
MUSIC FOR CLARINET AND PIANO (excerpts from the three movements)(10:00, 1981).
David Harman, cl., Benita Rose, pno. Explores the clarion register of the clarinet (and of course, the chalameau) with a highly evolved piano. Has been in the touring repertoire of Continuum, New York City, Cheryl Seltzer & Joel Sachs, directors, David Krakauer, clarinet.
PRELUDE TO NIBIRU (excerpts: group 1,group 2)for full orchestra (3333,4331,4, pno, hp, strings. Duration: 16:00, 1999). Nibiru is the best kept secret in our solar system. An exotic tone poem based on Sumerian legend (ca. 2800BCE).
STARSAIL for Chamber Orchestra (excerpts) for flute, oboe, harp, one percussionist & strings. Duration: 6:00, 1987/1998. A huge glistening sail made of gold leaf which is so light that it could rotate the earth indefinitely, powered by solar energy. StarSail would be literally uplifting--an art symbol which would raise millions of eyes to the heavens. NASA was nonplused by Bo Parker's suggestion, but the idea launched this piece. Originally a collaboration with choreographer Randall Faxon Parker.
PERIHELION II for String Orchestra (excerpts) (12:30, 1985), The Arioso String Orchestra conducted by Carolann Martin, recorded on Leonarda CD # LE327.Written in the year of the comet, Perihelion is the point in the orbit of a planet or comet where it passes closest to the sun. The piece, originally commissioned for string orchestra and digital sound evokes the analogy between planet and sun. This version for strings alone uses a smaller ensemble (a modern concertino) for what was previously the digital music.
PERIHELION I for String Orchestra and Computer-Generated Sounds (12:30, 1985). (sorry--clip is not up yet) Written in the year of the comet, Perihelion is the point in the orbit of a planet or comet where it passes closest to the sun. The piece, commissioned for string orchestra and computer evokes the analogy between planet and sun. The digital sounds are Synclavier-basedDiaphanous Music.
AUTUMNAL CONTRASTS for Wind Ensemble (30 players, 9:00, 1983)Purchase score/rent parts or get perusal score. Parts available on rental from Diaphanous Music. Also available from Carl Fischer Rental Library. Dedicated to Larry Rachleff, who conducted the premiere.
Orange Crystal Stomp for Flute and Piano (2:30, 2011). For Susan Greenberg and Delores Stevens in celebration of the 15th anniversary of Chamber Music Palisades.
FIREFLIES for Solo Flute (2:00, 2003). Sorry, clip not up yet. When Nina Assimakopoulos approached me about writing a piece for her recording project, Laurels, my thoughts immediately went to Tagores book, Fireflies (Beacon Press). Bengali poet, philosopher, mystic, painter, musician Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) won the Nobel prize in 1912. Recording: Bryan Guarnuccio: Capstone CD (with Nina Assimakopoulos) titled "Points of Entry: The Laurels Project, Vol. 2"
"My fancies are fireflies,
specks of colored light
twinkling in the dark."
CIRCLES IN THE SUN: Clarinet Solo with Prerecorded Electronics on CD (in 3 movements, 15:00, 2002). Listen to each movement: I. Circles in the Ruins, II. Circles in the Sky, III. Circles in the Sun. This piece is hot off the presses--so the clarinet part is played by MIDI piano in movements I & II in these recordings.In Jorge Luis Borges' short story, "The Circular Ruins", a wizard paddles upstream to an overgrown abandoned ritual site in the forest, the sacred circle of the god of Fire. There through his dreams, after untold torment and numerous false starts over several years, he managed to produce a son. The first movement is a soundscape of this magical circular story, in which only Fire can distinguish between those who are dreamed and those who are real. Movements two and three continue the circular motif--bringing the magic into the sun. Movements can be performed separately.
F. Gerard Errante, clarinet. From his CD on Drimala, Beyond Noend with Errante. In India, a young performer learns his instrument by studying with a singer--so the music will always a a vocal foundation. Ive tried to emulate this, and the improvisatory spirit of the music, although the piece is fully notated. The movement titles are fragments from the writings of Bengali poet, philosopher, mystic, painter, musician Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) whose work, revisited recently, holds even more power for me than it did twenty years ago. The inspiration for this piece came from William Powell, one of its dedicatees, whose knowledge and deep love of Indian music caused me to explore it as a source of alternative resources. As well as the prerecorded electronics on CD, the second movement employs a pitch to MIDI converter, the PitchRider, which allows the clarinet real-time control of an additional synthesizer. A pick-up microphone in the clarinet is also connected to reverb and delay devices. The other three movement of the piece can be performed without this movement, if a pitch to MIDI converter is unavailable. Movements can be performed separately.
Another fine recording by Australian clarinetist Ros Dunlop, Great White Noise: Proceeds from this recording to be donated to Glendale Day Centre for the Intellectually Disabled and Ahisann ("Light and Friendship")--a refuge for young disabled Timorese men.
TAGORE SONGS: Soprano Saxophone Solo with Prerecorded Electronics on CD (9:00, 1997). Three movements. Premiered by by Allen Cordingly at the World Saxophone Congress, Minneapolis, July 2003.
CD Review: "My favourite pieces on the CD have to be the 'Tagore Songs' by Jane Brockman. These were written originally for clarinet but work brilliantly on the soprano saxophone for which they adapted here. The work is influenced by Indian music and sounds very improvisatory despite being fully notated. Each movement is named after a quotation by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). 1. A lurid glow waxes and wanes on the horizon .... what was sorrow has now become peace. This movement is more melodious than other works on the disc. It is very atmospheric with stunning soprano saxophone playing. The tuning is impeccable. Very peaceful and really capturing the spirit of India and its vocal tradition. 2. Reflected ...... from a far-off world .... and vanished! 3. Where roads are made, I lose my way. This final song is much faster and technical than the other two." Lynda Baker, Music Web International (http://www.musicweb-international.com)
Program Notes: After a lifetime of writing nontonal music, I am presently concerned with exploring the kinkier regions of tonality. The turn, a baroque ornament which encircles a particular pitch, governs the small and large-scale aspects of this piece. In terms of large-scale structure, this can produce some very strange ways of approaching closely related tonal centers. Emotionally, (I hope) the result produces an exotic yet somehow deeply familiar listening experience.(JB) The piece includes a prerecorded CD and employs a pitch to MIDI converter, the PitchRider, which allows the clarinet real-time control of an additional synthesizer. A pick-up microphone in the clarinet is also connected to reverb and delay devices. Dedicated to William Powell.
Program Notes: After a lifetime of writing nontonal music, I am presently concerned with exploring the kinkier regions of tonality. The turn, a baroque ornament which encircles a particular pitch, governs the small and large-scale aspects of this piece. In terms of large-scale structure, this can produce some very strange ways of approaching closely related tonal centers. Emotionally, (I hope) the result produces an exotic yet somehow deeply familiar listening experience.(JB) Can be performed with or without delay and pitch follower devices.
NINGANA was written for clarinetist F. Gerard Errante, and was first performed at the 1989 Clarinet Fest International in Minneapolis."Ningana", a Maori word meaning "resting place", was suggested as a title by Mr. Errante, who has a special interest in the music of Australia and New Zealand. This might suggest that the piece is restful in nature--actually, the resting places in this work are more in the form of tonal arrivals. The same basic materials comprise two very different movements which are played without pause. The second movement includes a prerecorded CD and the first movement may simply be played as a solo. Alternatively, a pitch to MIDI converter, the PitchRider, may be used which allows the clarinet real-time control of an additional synthesizer. Though not required, a pick-up microphone in the clarinet may be connected to reverb and delay devices.
LANDSCAPES (excerpts) for Piano and Prerecorded Electronics on CD. (9:00, 1990) Vicki Ray, piano. At times raucous, at times ethereal, the piano travels through a landscape of amazingly organic digital sounds.
Written for Music & Conversations’ June 2009 concert where, by happy accident, we had extraordinary pianists Bryan Pezzone and Delores Stevens on the program. And when was the last time anyone has heard a piece for 4-hand piano? An opportunity not to be missed.
So the influences in this music are inspired by the pianists personalities--musical and otherwise. One can hear tinges of tango, French impressionism, Baroque, and rock-n-roll--all processed through my own musical filter. Saying any more would eliminate the mystique.
LANDSCAPES (excerpts) for Solo Piano and Electronics on CD (9:00, 1990) Vicki Ray, piano. At times raucous, at times ethereal, the piano travels through a landscape of amazingly organic digital sounds.
CHARACTER SKETCHES (I/II excerpts)(III excerpt) for Piano Solo (14:00, 1983). Bryan Pezzone, piano. Stylistic "characters" from the music of Debussy, Schoenberg, Wagner and Mussorgsky serve as a point of departure in these three movements. Sometimes references appear in the form of quotations, other references are simply evocative. The strategy for this work was to uncover the similarities and relationships among these different characters--and to guide their evolution still further into materials which are mine alone.
TELL-TALE FANTASY for Piano Solo (6:00, 1978). Sorry--clip is not up yet. An illusion of improvisation is created in this piece--as though the pianist, intending to play a piece of "contemporary music" gets sidetracked in wistful thought of masterworks of the early twentieth century. Schoenberg, Debussy and Ives are quoted. The notation is precise.
STARSAIL II (dance piece, digital synthesizers, 9:00, 1987), Diaphanous Music. A collaboration with RANDANCE/Randall Faxon Parker, choreographer, New York City. A huge glistening sail made of gold leaf which is so light that it could rotate the earth indefinitely, powered by solar energy. NASA was nonplused by Bo Parker's suggestion, but the idea launched this piece.