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  • dtoub 12:31 pm on Saturday, February 15, 2014, 12:31 pm Permalink | Reply

    on the same program as cage, feldman, glass, pärt, eastman, curran, jl adams, denis johnson, riley, la monte young and gann. wow. 

    The pianist Nicolas Horvath is doing another maximalist program (nine hours!) of minimalist piano music starting today, this time in Kyiv, Ukraine. I’m really honored and humbled. He’s giving the second performance, ever, of for four and will be soon be premiering the piano transcription of an excerpt from my two-hour string quartet for philip glass in Paris. And I’ve had two folks friend me recently on Facebook simply because they heard my music on disc or via WPRB-FM in Princeton and for whatever reason liked my music. I’m not sure to what I can attribute all this interest in my music lately, but it’s kinda nice given the long and unusually severe winter here in the northeast.

    Sleepless night of music :: All-Kyiv – city touristic portal.

  • dtoub 12:36 am on Saturday, January 11, 2014, 12:36 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , two pianos   

    for ruth first (2014) 



    for ruth first is a work for two pianos written from 1/6-1/9/14 over four evenings in palo alto. The title refers to the South African antiapartheid activist and journalist who was assassinated with a bomb in Maputo, Mozambique by South African intelligence agents.

    The entire work consists of six tones, which was not originally planned that way, and there are occasional canonical passages between the two pianos. It is entirely pianissimo in terms of dynamic level. I also realized after completing it that it is actually in the key of E Major, which is not typical for me as I don’t write tonal music. So I think of it as accidentally tonal.

    The score is here. The audio file is here.

  • dtoub 2:19 pm on Saturday, January 4, 2014, 2:19 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , maria de alvear, , , stephane ginsbergh   

    stuff for 2014 

    Some projects for the new year:

    • I will be in Palo Alto next week with four nights to compose. Thinking about a work for two pianos.
    • I’ll be starting an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign soon to support a recording session by the amazing Belgian pianist Stephane Ginsburgh to release quartet for piano and for four on Maria de Alvear’s World Edition label. I’m really excited by this; Stephane is one of the best contemporary pianists out there who has recorded and performed Feldman, Rzewski and others, and he was one of the three dedicatees of quartet for piano.
    • Nicolas Horvath will be premiering this work at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris on April 11th
    • There may be a live performance or two of quartet for piano in NYC and/or SF this spring…

    This is either all great news or really ominous, depending on one’s musical taste.

  • dtoub 2:01 pm on Saturday, January 4, 2014, 2:01 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , MOC, nonsense   

    does maintenance of certification (board recertification) really have any value? 

    I was originally board-certified in ob/gyn in 1996. It was tough; besides a written exam, I had to compile a list of every patient I saw in the office, operated upon in the OR, etc. for an entire year. Back then, software for this was pretty horrible and painful to use, and everything had to be done to the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s strict specifications in terms of page layout, printing, etc. But I did it, and then had to fly to Chicago and sit in a room in the Westin Hotel while three pairs of examiners came in and grilled me for an hour each on gynecology, obstetrics and office practice. I had to defend why I treated specific patients the way I did, and left absolutely convinced that I had failed miserably. Everyone was made to feel that way. But I did pass and had a 10-year certification. While grueling and akin to mental torture, I felt that it was an accomplishment, especially given that many people were failed by the examiners that year.

    Beginning in 2006, I had to undergo recertification. One had the option of taking a live written exam that gave you recertification for a few years, or completing 120 open-book, multiple-guess questions about various papers in the clinical literature; taking the clinical questions route (“ABC” for “annual board certification”) gave one recertification that lasted one year. Nearly all of us diplomates opted for the ABC route. It was easy, albeit pricey, but we all knew it was somewhat ludicrous. The hardest part wasn’t answering the questions, but obtaining the articles. It spawned a small industry of companies that would help provide the abstracts of the various papers needed, which I hope didn’t dupe too many gynecologists out there since the abstracts can be had for free online very easily. We all realized that one really didn’t learn much from reading the articles and answering the questions, and it was also clear that people didn’t remember any of what they had read afterwards; ask any gynecologist if he or she remembers any of the papers used for the ABC exam even a year ago and you’ll likely get blank stares.

    Things got worse around 7-8 years ago, when under pressure from other professional boards to get tougher, ABOG opted into what has been termed “Maintenance of Certification” or MOC. In addition to the usual list of multiple-guess questions about various clinical papers, one had to complete other requirements, including annual case-base testing (which didn’t officially cause one to fail, and I was nevertheless exempt as I am no longer in full-time clinical practice), and a written exam every six years. I took the written exam (really a computerized exam) last year and passed, although I was surprised I never received the questions with answers as was promised at the end of my taking the exam. Without such feedback, how can someone truly learn and know what he or she answered incorrectly and why?

    I recently registered again for the 2014 MOC process, dutifully paid my annual fee, and submitted my active medical license. All routine. But today I received an email from ABOG telling me that my application is incomplete because I never submitted a signed form from another ABOG diplomate to attest to my character. That was something that we all used to do every year, but for the past two years was not apparently required, so I was a bit surprised to see it return. Does ABOG think I became an axe murderer in the past year? Given that I’ve been board-certified (technically, a “diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology”) since 1996, has my “moral character” somehow drastically declined now that I’m in my 50’s? No worries; I already have a friend who is happy to attest that I have “demonstrated good moral and ethical character, and have voluntarily elected to have limited or no OB/GYN Admitting Privileges,” but the Board has received the same attestation over a number of years, and I’d be curious if they’ve ever had anyone who couldn’t produce at least one other gynecologist who would sign such a form for him or her. Honestly, it’s silly.

    So every year, all of us board-certified gynecologists must pay several hundred dollars for the privilege of taking an open-book multiple-choice test about articles that are largely forgettable and that probably teach little or nothing. Asking questions like “What was the sample size in the study by Yifnif and colleagues?” has no lasting value whatsoever. Most of us can, and should, be able to read basic clinical papers and understand how to find the information when asked for it. My kids could do the same thing. None of this means anything.

    Maintenance of Certification programs in several specialties have never, ever, been demonstrated to improve clinical outcomes. Not one bit. People aren’t practicing better medicine because of MOC. Patients are not doing better because of MOC. All it appears to amount to is a way for medical specialty boards to feel like they’re doing something to make sure that their board-certified physicians are still up to par, and generate some revenue while doing it. It’s quality monitoring theater.

    Why do I still maintain my board certification status? Two reasons; in my specialty, I could no longer be a Fellow of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists without it, as it is required for continued membership in what is the main professional society for ob/gyns. Second, I worked really hard to become board-certified in the first place, and that board certification itself does mean something, at least to me. So I don’t have any interest in giving it up.

    There was a good paper on MOC not too long ago in NEJM. It makes many good points about the problems with MOC as currently implemented. In fact, i can’t really find many physicians who truly like MOC. We all think it’s silly and don’t like taking the time and money to deal with it. The only people who I can find to really defend MOC are associated with professional medical societies.

    So yes, i’ll go through the same motions again this year. I paid my fee, I’ll answer the questions (which, incidentally, can be re-answered online if incorrect until one gets it right) and print out the automatically-generated certificate attesting to my board certification status for this year. But I won’t have any delusions that it made me a better clinician. Even continuing medical education doesn’t usually produce improved clinical outcomes, so why would making physicians read through a few dozen clinical papers in an open-book format work any better?

    • kempen 10:12 pm on Saturday, January 4, 2014, 10:12 pm Permalink

      No, there is no value to MOC or CMOC as it is called now. Board certification (BC) is only an “entry requirement” to MOC having little if any intrinsic value. Only those in the BC-MOC confidence /pyramid Scheme designed to profit the ABMS corporation only. The whole BC thing has been clearly degraded to an extortion scheme of the ABMS who continues to state that it is voluntary, while lobbying congress, insurance companies and non-physicians in the healthcare industry to demand MOC or fire all doctors. This is a purchasing/advertisement scheme now very similar to :
      ABC News Investigates Top Doctor Awards: Are They Always Well Deserved?
      July 14, 2012

      Take time to read and think.

  • dtoub 7:51 am on Friday, November 1, 2013, 7:51 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    12 (2013) for open instrumentation 


    • Paul H. Muller 1:48 pm on Friday, November 1, 2013, 1:48 pm Permalink

      Well just a comment for the benefit of those players who might try this… The key signature shows no meter, but a glance at the measures confirms 3/8. The tempo given in the notes is marked as a quarter note. Looks interesting…

    • dtoub 2:08 pm on Friday, November 1, 2013, 2:08 pm Permalink

      Someone might try this????

      Problem with meter is that it’s misleading. Some parts are in three, others are really in two. Some beats occur on the second and fifth sixteenth in the measure.

    • Paul H. Muller 12:02 am on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 12:02 am Permalink

      Given the informed nature of your work, is this formulation something from, say Terry Riley or maybe Tom Johnson? Original? I’ve adapted this for a couple of pieces in the past two weeks and want to give the proper credit…

    • dtoub 7:44 am on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 7:44 am Permalink

      Thanks Paul. I came up with it while playing with loops in Reason 7. No predetermined formulation per sė. It just happened.

      There are many works that give performers freedom in terms of repeating measures and moving through a sequence of notes. Drumming, In C and much of th music of Julius Eastman come to mind. But those all involve playing the same notes. This doesn’t; each loop is separate but appears within a specific order (player 1 then player 2 joins in etc, and they go out in descending order).

      Curious what you did with this raw material. Thanks.

    • Paul H. Muller 10:56 pm on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 10:56 pm Permalink

      I’ve used a somewhat modified version of your structure: I like the meter in 3 so I’m using a moderately fast 3/4. I’ve used only 8 measures/voices instead of 12, but they enter additively in sequence, 16 or 24 bars between. They are withdrawn, however, in a completely different sequence and I’m not rigorous about when they completely disappear. I’ve found the structure helpful in keeping my impatience in check, yet it gives some scope for shaping on the back end. Here are my Sound In pieces for last week and this coming Friday:

      ‘Summing’ is here: .
      ‘Summing’ score:

      ‘Disassembly for Four Pianos’ is here:

      Score is here:

    • dtoub 11:31 pm on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 11:31 pm Permalink

      Thanks Paul. Both sound pretty interesting. Glad 12 is having some productive use.

  • dtoub 9:05 pm on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 9:05 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    because you can’t have too many works for electronic organ and bongo drums 


    • perkustooth 10:33 pm on Friday, October 25, 2013, 10:33 pm Permalink

      Too much music for organ and bongos??? I don’t think this unique pairing has ever occurred in music history. Cool piece though. And the other pieces are among my favorites of your pieces written thus far.

  • dtoub 9:19 am on Saturday, October 5, 2013, 9:19 am Permalink | Reply

    unfinished work for allan cronin (2013) 

    This work came out of an improvisation in a hotel room in Palo Alto, CA on the evening of 8/27/13. It is unlike my other recent works in that it involves more than one dynamic level, in this case pp, mf, ppp. It is scored for solo piano. This recording was realized with Reason 7.0.1.

    Why “unfinished?” Years ago, my wife and I attended a large exhibition of the works of Keith Haring in NYC, and one of his paintings was purposely unfinished in one of the corners. That always struck me as an interesting idea, that one’s creative work is really never truly completed. The question in this work is which portion was not really completed. I’m not sure I have answered that for myself.

    The score is here. The audio file (MP3) is here.


  • dtoub 9:30 pm on Saturday, September 21, 2013, 9:30 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    working on another piece 

    I’m pretty excited by this one. Details to follow, but I improvised something I liked a few weeks ago in Palo Alto and started to mold it into an actual composition earlier this week when I was back out West. I also picked up Reason 7.0.1 and when the work is completed sometime next month, hope to record it in Reason rather than Finale. The piano sound in Finale is good enough, but has some harmonics that are readily apparent and often distracting. I originally improvised this piece in Reason 4.0.1 and the piano sounded very nice. Unfortunately, Reason 4.0.1, I came to find, was incompatible with the new version of OS X I’m testing so I had to upgrade. Which is all fine.

  • dtoub 5:27 pm on Friday, June 7, 2013, 5:27 pm Permalink | Reply  

    tbd (2013) for piano solo 

    Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 5.02.40 PM

    I had had some ideas about writing a choral piece, but as I improvised something in a hotel room across from Stanford in Palo Alto, CA, it became clear that this would not be well-suited for anything but piano. So this work completely came into being from a 31-minute improvisation that was reworked into a solo piano piece lasting 45-50 minutes.

    The piece is largely based on two notes (d-f) as well as a two-chord sequence that I came up with while visiting the NAMM museum in Carlsbad, CA on vacation and playing one of their synthesizers. I wasn’t sure what to call the piece and gave it the provisional title tbd as a placeholder, but the name stuck.

    The score is here. The mp3 file is here. This recording was made with an Ensoniq KS-32 synthesizer.

  • dtoub 10:31 am on Thursday, March 14, 2013, 10:31 am Permalink | Reply  

    brasstet (1997; arranged 2013) 

    Between 1996 and 1997, I composed a long work for brass sextet called brass piece for arielle victoria. I was pretty fond of it, but wrote it with the idea that, because so much of it required fairly continuous playing, the performers would have to be adept at circular breathing. At the time, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it turns out that it was, and I’ve since come to realize that there was very little chance that it would ever be heard other than in a suboptimal MIDI performance with sampled instruments. And that’s where things have stood since 1997, except for the last section that was arranged for string quartet and can be heard in an excellent performance by the Rangzen Quartet.

    I had long toyed with the idea of scoring the entire piece for strings to circumvent the performance challenges, and this has now resulted in this arrangement for string quartet and contrabass. Other than some minor tweaks in a few sections, it is identical to the original brass work, but should pose no significant challenges in terms of performance. The audio file is not idea, of course, since strings are harder to convincingly sample compared with piano and a few other instruments, but overall it works

    The score is here. A mp3 file is hereScreen Shot 2013-03-13 at 3.43.21 PM.

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