|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.|
The Numinosum Blog
crib notes (from Urban Dictionary): a small instrument used to aid in the art of cheating. It is generally small pieces of paper with answers to a test, or just notes on a specific topic; notes for cheating on exams written on small and easily concealable pieces of paper with stealth in mind. Called "crib" notes because of the manner in which you hold the notes under your left hand/arm while writing with your right arm, keeping them concealed from teachers/professors with wondering eyes; notes written on the hand, arm, or leg to assist in cheating on quizzes and exams.
In anticipation of the upcoming Numinous concert on May 24th, in the spirit of my Inside Vipassana series I did last fall, over the next week leading up to the concert (as time allows with all of the preparations) I thought I'd give you some brief insight to some of the compositions we'll be throwing down at the Brooklyn's Tea Lounge...
Madame Press Never Had to Holler at Morty
Morton Feldman is one of my inspirations. In college, I remember vividly studying a number of his works in 20th century Music Theory and was astonished at how his music and approach was so distinct and beautiful with compositions such as deKooning, Rothko Chapel, For Franz Kline, Coptic Light, For Samuel Beckett, Only, among many, that I loved (and still love). Even at that time I made a connection between Feldman's evanescent ethereal clouds of sounds and bare sonorities with Claude Debussy's sonic liberation of harmony and quest for Symbolistic understatement. After many years of listening to their music and reading about their respective musical philosophies, they continue to hold a particularly special place for me.
So when I started the writing of Madame Press Never Had to Holler at Morty, I treated it as a mash-up experiment: a 'what if?' project in the great Marvel comic tradition. This was my first attempt at fusing Feldmantonian elements with more funky, jazzy grooves (a few years later, my Quantum Fluctuations would be the second).
Here's what I said about the piece in the program notes on its premiere in May 2001:
American composer, Morton Feldman (1926-1987) wrote a piece for his former piano teacher entitled Madame Press Died Last Week At Ninety (1970). In that piece, which I first heard on John Adams’ 1991 recording American Elegies (Nonesuch 79249-2), Morton Feldman’s typically soft and subtle shifts of sonorities and colors are there, but the piece also features, atypically for Feldman, a recurring motive (a downward major third)-one of the first of his pieces to feature repetition.
In my composition, as a starting point, I took Madame Press Died Last Week At Ninety and a quote from Feldman’s Essays (1985) speaking about how Madame Press was not a disciplinarian. Then asking myself what would happen if Morton Feldman listened to too much 70’s funk and soul (by way of 1996’s "Makes Me Wanna Holler"" by Me’shell Ndegéocello) and brought that to his lessons with Madame Press: would she still not be a disciplinarian?
So you have this bass line from "Makes Me Wanna Holler" (transposed):
coexisting with Feldman's falling third motif:
with me adding my own take, combining to form (transposed):
To get your ears ringing for the 24th, here's a video of a stripped down and edited version I did for a Numinous performance at a Roulette Children's concert in 2007 with Dan Willis (tenor sax), Amanda Monaco (guitar), and Deanna Witkowski (piano):
Now for the Children's concert I took out a few elements from the original which allowed me to shorten the length of the piece while still keeping the general sense of the piece. However on the 24th, we'll be doing the original version.
May 24, 2010
837 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215-1308
Donations (please be generous!)
Ben Kono, Dan Willis, Ed Xiques (woodwinds); Stephanie Richards (trumpet); Ernest Stuart (trombone); Tom Beckham (vibraphone); Andrew Green (guitar); Megan Levin (harp); Jared Soldiviero (percussion); Ana Milosavljevic, Scott Tixier (violins); Will Martina, Lauren Riley-Rigby(cellos); Shawn Conley (bass)
Check back later for more Crib Notes...
(Photo credit: Morton Feldman with John Adams by Betty Freeman from www.newmusicbox.org)
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 6:16 PM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.