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  • dtoub 12:36 am on Saturday, January 11, 2014, 12:36 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: postminimalism, 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 3:24 am on Thursday, February 16, 2012, 3:24 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: postminimalism   

    piece for keyboard and another instrument (2011) 


    I’ve been doing a lot of travelling across the pond to Europe lately, and it’s been seven months since I was last in Palo Alto with evenings free to compose. Nonetheless, I managed to record an improvisation on my Ensoniq KS-32 synthesizer on 2/2/12 at home in Wyncote, PA and just finalized it into a piece in Palo Alto on my M-Audio Keystation 88-ES MIDI controller. The toughest decision had to do with scoring; I had debated between piano and voice, piano and string quintet and other combinations, and finally settled on keyboard with one other instrument (which could be a third hand playing a second piano, or perhaps the instrument could be voice, flute, violin, etc.).

    The work is just over 30 minutes and is a bit of a throwback to some of my early postminimal works from the 80’s, in that it is heavily pattern-oriented and even has some tonal elements. Although none of this was in the plans; it just happened.

    If the other instrument is wind-based, it will require some circular breathing. The audio file is actually for two pianos (the second piano has just a single line for one hand), since it sounded better than the flute samples I have, and the identical timbres reinforced some of the patterns that resulted from combining different lines.

    This is a bit of a change from some of my more recent music that consists mostly, or exclusively, of single notes or chords followed by rests. This piece starts off somewhat like that, but changes to a much more animated and rhythmic series of notes that continues largely unabated for the remainder of the piece.

    The score is here.

    The mp3 is here.

  • dtoub 2:51 pm on Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 2:51 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: postminimalism, there's a critic born every minute   

    fan mail, I get fan mail! (part 2 of a series) 

    Screen shot 2009-10-06 at 2.52.13 PM

    • boga 3:43 pm on Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 3:43 pm Permalink

      i have heard some of your pieces.There is no concept….This is typical copy past minimal music.One bar could be a new piece.It seems that you write without thinking what you’ve wrote at the beginning of your piece…….But it is fun to listen it sometimes.
      I have one suggestion.Have you ever thought how nice would sound your pieces all together played at the same time????….try it!

      Best regards

    • boga 3:54 pm on Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 3:54 pm Permalink

      and something more.
      I really like your harmonies and the mood of your pieces or the character.I just don’t like repetitions.
      I liked the memo piece i ve heard today.
      I am curious to listen something before your minimal crisis.

    • dtoub 7:10 pm on Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 7:10 pm Permalink

      Aren’t you that crazy Orly Taitz birther person? Look, Orly, I can live with the thought of you not liking my music. Really. But thanks for writing in. Again, if it’s so easy, please feel free to write some music yourself.

  • dtoub 4:18 am on Thursday, September 11, 2008, 4:18 am Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 12-tone music, , postminimalism   

    bs piece (double canon for bill solomon) 

    I don’t write 12-tone music anymore, and haven’t since I wrote ineffabilities over 25 years ago. Don’t get me wrong; I really like a lot of the 12-tone music I used to write, especially ineffabilities. But I moved on, and aside from some occasional 12-tone passages (generally a series of four three-note chords that get repeated a lot), all my music is written intuitively. That is, I don’t have any technique other than improvisation, nor do I care to have a ”technique.“

    All that said, I did something I wouldn’t normally do: I wrote using a standard technique (canonical writing along with dodecaphony). In the process, I ended up writing a long 12-tone canon for six marimbas that is at the same time perfectly postminimalist. I have to say, though, that this was a very uncomfortable piece for me to compose, since I really don’t like being straitjacketed. I had a lot of doubts about the piece, and at first wrote it more as an academic exercise or experiment, and fully expected to ditch it and move onto something more intuitive and comfortable. But as I ruminated over this piece, it really grew on me. So I finished it, pretty rapidly actually (it helps to be holed up in a Palo Alto, CA hotel for a few days while in the Bay Area at work).

    I had been asked by Bill Solomon, who participated in the premiere of objects, to write a work either for straight percussion, marimba or vibraphone. I really liked the concept, but didn’t have any ideas. Even worse, I didn’t have much time to play around and eventually manage to write something. But I was toying around with two 12-tone rows, more as an academic exercise than anything (and I could argue that for most 12-tone composers post-Schoenberg, all they did amounted to an academic exercise. But I digress). The rows had some interesting properties, in that they the even numbered notes were inversions of the odd numbered notes. So it occurred to me that the rows were themselves very basic canons. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could run with it. Not necessarily compelling, but at least interesting.

    That’s when it got tricky, since nothing really was coming out of this that was that interesting to me. But I stuck with it a bit longer, since I had nothing much else to work with. First I thought about writing a really challenging piece for solo marimbist, that would have a lot of canonical writing but would be a bear to play with two hands and four mallets. So I asked Bill if marimba + prerecorded tape might be an option, and he was open to the suggestion. So I wrote the work in a matter of days. I thought of the title before even starting the work, since the concept for the piece struck me as more an academic exercise than anything else, hence the double entendre (note to self: tell the kids the title reflects Bill’s initials).

    It’s a very different type of piece for me. Still, I really like it, and according to his Twitter response, so does Bill. I could only keep the strict canonical writing going for so long, and a little bit towards the end I fell into my old habits of intuitive writing (although it still uses one of the two rows). I also got a bit sarcastic at the end, with a very uncharacteristic few bars of tonality in C, but interrupted at the end by a single 12-note chord. It was a tough day, and I needed some humor.

    Anyway, the MP3 is here. The long version of the score is here, and the condensed version is here. The audio file is pretty quiet, so if you don’t hear anything, feel free to turn up the volume.

    Now I need to come up with a piece for saxophone quartet for Brian Kauth. I think I’ll return to intuition for that one.

    Wow, it’s 1:15 AM here on the left coast (4:15 AM in Wyncote, PA time), so I’m outta here. Anyway, the piece is up on the site for anyone to download and share.

    • Peter Lackner 8:57 am on Monday, July 6, 2015, 8:57 am Permalink

      Twelve-tone-row No. 146102 (number in the orbit: 303)
      Best wishes !
      P. L.

  • dtoub 5:55 pm on Monday, August 4, 2008, 5:55 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: improvisational study no. 1, , , postminimalism   

    improvisational study no. 1 (1981-1982): status 

    It’s taken a long time, but the audio file is now done and I think I’ve found all my computer entry mistakes and Finale 2009-induced errors in the digitized score. I just want to listen to the audio file some more and take another look over the score. Everything should be up on the site pretty soon. Hey, cut me some slack: it’s 155 pages in landscape mode and 2h 4min in duration. Besides, I wrote it over 25 years ago, so what’s another few days. And it’s pretty listenable, if I do say so myself.

  • dtoub 2:20 pm on Sunday, April 6, 2008, 2:20 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , postminimalism   

    what I’ve been working on lately 

    A good friend has asked me to write a piece for a solo percussionist, probably either marimba or vibraphone. I’m definitely planning to get to this, and have started sketching out some ideas. But for quite some time, I’ve been letting an early piece of mine sit around undigitized  while I’ve worked on writing new compositions. Balancing the new with the old is tricky; like everyone else, I’d rather be writing something new. But I have a number of pieces I really like (and some I’d really rather pretend don’t exist) from the era before music notation software, and it would be great to get those into digital format and up on the music site. I did that a ways back with a 2-hour+ piece called textbook: music of descending landscapes in hyperspace (piece for IPS), and it went over pretty well.

    Before writing textbook, I had written another long piece for piano called improvisational study no. 1: shingon mándaras. To this day, I still don’t know exactly how long it is, since I never played it in its entirety from start to finish. Probably somewhere between 90 minutes and 2 hours, but the exact duration is up for grabs. Anyway, it was my first postminimalist piece, written after another piano work, ineffabilities, which was the last 12-tone work I ever composed. IS1 is different from the music I write now, yet is also very similar. It’s in a number of movements, but works fine if everything is played without pause. I originally thought of it in two large sections: kongokai and taizokai. Kongokai, if I recall correctly, is a Buddhist term signifying the material world, while taizokai refers to the “diamond” world (it might mean something entirely different in other variants of Buddism). It’s been a long time since I studied Japanese art, which actually was the inspiration for the title. Shingon mándaras were Buddhist artworks in Japan that had these incredibly beautiful repetitive structures:

    I had to take two art or music courses in college, and having no desire to take the academic music classes at the U of Chicago, opted for art instead. One class I took was in Japanese art, and it was not too great. It focused on memorizing dates of each piece of art we looked at, when all I really was interested in was appreciating the art itself. Despite the dry, academic nature of the course, the artwork blew me away, and it has stuck with me since.

    Back to the music: I wrote IS1 during 1981 and 1982, and would very much like to get it notated in Finale  so that I can make a decent mp3 file from it. I’m almost there—it’s probably 80% done, but I still have work to do on it. The section I’m working on now is envisioned as including a female voice as an option, just as the first brief section of textbook can include two contrabassi. Impractical, sure, but the sonic results hopefully would be worth the effort. Here are two excerpts from the non-optimized version of the score:

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