September 28, 2018

illumine Part 2

This month we bring you the second half of our concert/podcast series featuring David, Jodie, and Kaitlyn of illumine!

They are an innovative and incredibly accomplished trio bringing new life to classical music all over the world.

Learn more about out more about illumine here.

Catch up on Part 1 here.

This episode includes:

0:00 S&DMM+Illumine Theme - Arr. David Mathew Brown (2018)

1:55 Four Miniatures for Flute and Drum Kit – David Trum (2018)

I: A playful, dancing movement inspired by Latin American rhythms. Listen for:

•The ABA form of the piece (Theme – Contrasting Theme – Return)

•The B section’s use of long tones to complement the active, busy rhythms of the A section

*Sean Arawjo is the composer of the contrasting theme.  In the first edition of this piece, the B section was an open improvisation, but we loved one of Sean’s improvised melodies so much that it gradually became canon.

II: A rhythmically driven movement that strikes a slightly sneaky tone. Listen for:

•The first theme and second theme, which are in keys a tritone apart (G minor and Db Major), yielding fun, dramatic transitions

•The points when the flute and drums are rhythmically in sync, versus other points where they play opposing one another, filling the gaps in each other’s phrases

III: A quirky movement that showcases the flute’s extended techniques and welcomes the timbre of the hi-hat into the drums’ palate of sounds. Listen for:

• The point after the first statement of the opening theme, immediately restated in rhythmic canon, with the drums delayed by two beats

•The flute cadenza, involving harmonized singing while playing

IV: A return to the danceable and grooving with a movement full of rhythmic surprises. Listen for:

•Tom-toms, tuned specifically to provide bass notes that harmonize with the flute’s melodies

•A saturation of rhythmic figures that play with cycles of 5 – for example, the opening: 1 2 34 5 – 1 2 3 4 5 – 1 2 – 1 2 3 4

20:25 Eternity is like unto a Ring – David Trum (2018)
text by John Bunyan and the composer

Program notes by the composer:

“This piece is a reflection on the relationships between time, love, and eternity, with English writer John Bunyan’s poem ‘Upon Time and Eternity’ framing the work as the text for the first and final movements. The rest of the text is self-composed, though I pulled much inspiration from the writings of Robert Browning, Henry Thoreau, and C.S. Lewis.

Just as ‘The Ring has no beginning, middle, end,’ this piece forgoes a linear narrative structure and instead exists largely within one musical moment, which is explored one layer at a time. This gradual unfolding of musical layers also parallels the introspective journey of the text, as it slowly proceeds from the universal to the more intimate and vulnerable.

I have always loved music that plays with time and context- specifically the way that musical context can frame our experience of a melody or idea. The Sigur Rós EP, ‘Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do’ [consisting of three tracks of atmospheric electronic music that can be played simultaneously to make one new piece] has long inspired me to explore similar tricks within live, notated music. I am also a huge fan of the sound and aesthetic of backwards audio, as in classic psychedelic rock like Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced?’ and The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ Through this new composition, I have been able to indulge in both of these passions. Over the course of the piece, musical motives and even whole movements overlay, intertwine, and appear in reverse- revealing new insights and relationships between them.”

Text and structure schematic 

37:15 Shower Thoughts – Sean Arawjo (2018)
text by “Shower Thoughts” users – respectively – u/slimmaslam, u/JohnBolia, u/waterdam, u/OyVeyzMeir, u/Gilfmagnet

The piece is based on a popular subreddit, wherein users share “miniature epiphanies” that they have, highlighting the oddities of the familiar. “Showerthought” is a loose term that applies to the types of thoughts you might have while carrying out a routine task like showering, driving, or daydreaming. At their best, Showerthoughts are universally relatable and find the amusing/interesting within the mundane.

I: This introductory movement embraces the concept of minimalism in a few different ways. The instrumentation is a nod to minimalist icon Steve Reich, and can be performed on a budget of literally $0. The text is fragmented in a way that creates several distinct statements, each with a different meaning, out of one sentence. Listen for:

•The irregular phrase length of the vocal line (12.5 beats), the beginning of which is punctuated by clapped accents in parts 4 and 5 throughout the piece. These accents always occur where the words “I’m Lucky” fall in the phrase, whether the vocal line is being stated or not.

•The superimposition of the accents in parts 2 and 3 (every 8 beats), and the few times when the two groups of accents line up

•The final statement, “I’m,” which stands alone as a complete sentence (“I am.”), and is the only word of the movement not accompanied by claps

TEXT by u/slimmaslam:

I’m lucky to be broke at a time when minimalism and sustainability are in style.

II: This flowing, quirky waltz consists mostly of consonant harmonies intended to represent pleasing smells. The tuba is featured in this movement and was chosen mostly for its versatility, however its aural proximity to a certain type of bad smell was also a factor. Listen for:

•The expansive range of the tuba, which begins its opening accompanimental figure in the low register (G1), then jumps up several octaves for a melodic solo in measure 5

•The flute taking over the second half of this melody in measure 9, as the tuba reverts to accompanimental material

•A soaring vocal line, which is set in a high tessitura (range) – lending a measure of class and dignity to what is one of the sillier texts of the broader work

•Rapid harmonic shifts that occur after the main theme, building intensity until the instrumental recapitulation

TEXT by u/JohnBolia:

One big difference between men and women is that when a woman says “Smell this…” it will usually smell nice.

III: The ambiguous meter (often 5/4, but with frequent shifts) and atonality of this movement create a sense of unease, intended to evoke the feeling of being lost and afraid. Listen for:

•A tenuous groove established early on by the drums

•Extended flute techniques used throughout the piece: whistle tones, tongue stops, residual tones, and diffuse tones

•Pointillistic texture, which becomes more active and chaotic, reaching its peak just before the final punchline

TEXT by u/waterdam:

Imagine being naked in a room with people speaking a different language, and they all want to touch you. That’s the life of a dog.

IV: Movement four is a jazzy Christmas carol for the modern era. The repetitive text reflects the numerous and often similar stories of workplace (and everywhere-place) harassment brought to light since the #metoo movement began. In order to appeal to the widest audience possible with this important message, the harmonies, form, and style are all conventional. Listen for:

•The theme, stated in the saxophone and violin parts prior to the vocal entrance, reinforcing its familiarity

•A shift in the piano and drums, signaling the B section

•An improvised section after the return to A, and before the vocal reprise

TEXT by u/OyVeyzMeir:

This is not the year for mistletoe in the workplace.

V: Reading from a multi-colored graphic score in this movement gives each performer the freedom to interpret their own musical line. Listen for:

•Three spoken iterations of the text, each with slightly different inflection

•A steady rhythmic pulse emerging from the middle of the piece

•The interaction between pitched instruments: they are sparse and atonal at the beginning and end, but establishing an F# tonal center in between

TEXT by u/Gilfmagnet:

Music is just wiggly air.

55:50 Improvisation 1 - Dreamy

TEXT submitted by audience member:

Sleep tight, sweet dreams, angels guide.

1:09:48 Improvisation 2 - Muscular

TEXT submitted by audience member:

Oh to have arms like Jodie! 

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