Passage deals with vernacular elements, with utterly familiar musical material. A small collection of ordinary harmonies is set in motion in a manner reminiscent of American popular music of years ago. The harmonic web is surmounted and penetrated by strands and patches of melodic stuff, none of it really self-sufficient or substantial, but all of it conventional. It might not be misleading to compare Passage with an ostensibly bland street scene by Edward Hopper or an "American Flag" by Jasper Johns. —Yehudi Wyner
The music has to do with reflections on the breaking of vessels/shells ("kelipot")—with the release of sparks of creative energy—as referred to in the Book of Zohar, and on the "Perennial Question" of existence as posed in Charles Ives' "Unanswered Question." It is the process of sound events becoming articulate as phrase gestures, of a "Larger" melody implied... —Malcolm Goldstein
Fantasy Etudes (1985) was commissioned with the support of an NEA consortium commissioning grant by Musical Elements, Alea III, the Arch Ensemble, and the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago. The piece is scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion (one player), and piano. It is about 17 minutes long and is in one movement.
The form is built up from 12 interlocking "etudes," each having its own characteristic musical idea and texture. This sequential profusion of material results in an overall sense of "fantasy." Against this surface variety there exists an underlying similarity of procedure. Each etude is cast in the form of expanding variations: it starts with a simple event and progressively elaborates into complexity. Each time, as the material of an etude begins to collapse under the weight of its elaborations, a new etude enters. These overlaps produce moments of dramatic tension—changes, if you like, from one fantasy to another. —Fred Lerdahl
This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Full liner notes are accessible via the link above.
Musical Elements - 10th Anniversary Recording
A *.pdf of the notes may be accessed here free of charge.
A Breaking of Vessels, Becoming Song