by Dan Trueman
Instrumentation: flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, trombone, percussion, piano, laptop, violin, viola, cello, bass
I had no intention of composing a piece titled "W..." and nor is this piece about the letter W in any way I can fathom; rather, by the time I had finished the piece, I simply had no choice but to title it W... I began by exploring the relationship between machine and body senses of time, a theme that has interested me for many years now; a lopsided digital metronome pushes and pulls at the ensemble while itself being constantly set and reset (via the percussionists woodblock) -- the result is a slow awkward walk, one that sometimes wobbles drunkenly, other times steadies itself, and finally collapses. But, just as my own daily life as a musician is wildly heterogenous -- I might in an instant shift from programming a digital instrument to playing a Norwegian fiddle tune -- Wobble Walk is followed by Ways of the Underworld, which began with a petty theft (call it inspiration) of an American Old Time fiddle tune called Ways of the World; I've played this tune for years, but it becomes something quite different on the iniquitous Norwegian Hardanger fiddle (my main instrument) and yet something else when filtered through the Crash Ensemble. Periodically while composing these first two movements , a tune and chord progression from a song I wrote over 20 years ago kept coming to mind -- I hadn't thought of this tune in years, and could barely remember it, but it returned in full force while I was working on the third movement. The original song was a setting of an early obscure poem by Robert Frost titled Warning, which I took as a hint that I shouldn't suppress the song here; it flowers, incredibly slowly, ritualistically conjured by Crash with the help of a cheap video-game controller and laptop. By this time I was committed to the letter W, through very little choice of my own, and perhaps nobody will believe me that the choice of a rising whole-tone melody (stolen from a famous Bach Chorale which was also pilfered by Berg in his violin concerto, a melody that was itself stolen by Bach from Johann Rudolf Ahle) for the last movement really had nothing to do with the letter W; rather, after the persistently descending gestures of the first two movements, I wanted something that seemed to slowly rise, continually pushing upwards, as if waking from a dream.
Commissioned by the Crash Ensemble, Dublin, Ireland