With the title Rumors
I pay homage to my teacher Martin Bresnick and his work Conspiracies
for multiple flutes. He derived his title from the Italian conspirare
, meaning to breath together; yet in English conspiracies suggests something different and more ominous. Similarly, I derivied Rumors
from the Italian rumori
, meaning sounds or noises. The four pieces in my set, each composed for a different member of the flute family, evoke sound or noise worlds unusual for a flute.
Trapset, for example, an alto flute piece, with tongue stops, key clicks, tongue pizzicati, and fluttertongued notes, simulates a battery of percussion.
The Heaven of Animals for C flute, through a series of chords (multiphonics), presents a simple tune, the kind someone might sing to combat fear while passing through a dangerous place. I took the title from a James Dickey poem about the endless descent of predators from trees unto "the bright backs of their prey" in the heaven of animals. There the reward for the weaker prey is meager: "to walk / Under such trees in full knowledge / Of what is in glory above them," to accept this cycle of victimization.
Focus Group for piccolo focuses on material from a brief passage in "Trapset." Except for a group of notes that spurt into the texture, most of the notes are blown with unfocused air.
Bel Canto for bass flute was composed in memory of an early afternoon in Tuscany. At lunch I sat by a very old man who was listening to a children's song, barely audible, that played on the radio. He said that he used to sing it before World War I, that he was trying to memorize it again. With the music, I wanted to recreate the Italian tune's sweetness and the old man's attempts to possess it.