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Stanley Schumacher: Compositions

 

SYMMETRIES

Duration:  2:00     

Instrumentation:  4 instruments (Choose one from each of the following groups.) -- Group A: flute or violin; Group B: clarinet or soprano saxophone or viola; Group C: bass clarinet or bassoon or trombone; Group D: contrabass

Description:  At last, a composition that is as much fun for the student of music theory to analyze as it is for the performers to play.  As the title suggests, Symmetries is the personification of structure and order.  Form, duration, pitch, rhythm, even the titles of the four movements all contain symmetrical relationships.  With all this emphasis on structure, you might think the piece would sound academic, but it doesn’t.  In fact, it sounds as though the Second Viennese School, Edgard Varese, and jazz were all rolled into one tight symmetrical package!!  Wow, what a brilliant composer!!

AvailableMedia Press   

 

BEAT ME DADDY, EIGHT TO A BAR

Duration:  3:00

Instrumentation:  trombone, piano, contrabass       

Description:  Three be-bop musicians get in their “licks” in this parody of a “not so hip” jazz trio.  The dramatic high point of this theatre piece is reached when the piano player depresses the sustain pedal, picks up a ball peen hammer, moves inside the piano and strikes the metal braces which support the sound board.  Like, a piano tuner’s worst nightmare, man!  [Like, NO, it doesn’t hurt the piano, man!]

 

DIALOGUE

Duration:  2:30     

Instrumentation:  trombone, 1 female narrator, 2 male narrators             

Description:  The 3 narrators assume positions of arrogance, indifference and thoughtfulness to project their various “messages.”  But is there any Dialogue?  The trombone comments and elaborates on these “messages.”  But is there any Dialogue?  You can put this theatre piece together quickly and have a lot of fun doing it.  But is there any Dialogue?

 

MUSOGRAPHY

Duration:  5:00

Instrumentation:  3 trombones, 2 clarinets

Description:  Homage to the glissando.  The three trombones are “all worked up” and sliding every which way.  There are even glissandi within glissandi.  Meanwhile, the two clarinets do their best to rein in all this madness, while all the players try to work their way through the graphic notation.  Bring your mutes for this unusual textural piece.

 

BRASSMAN

Duration:  5:00

Instrumentation:  solo trombone with trumpet, clarinet, violin, piano, and voice   

Description:  First Superman saved the universe; then Batman saved Gotham City; now Brassman saves music.  Through the dreamlike trance created by a progression of very mellow chords in the piano part, our hero plays a series of interactive duets with the remaining ensemble members in this through-composed piece.  By utilizing the 3 T’s (Temerity, Tenacity, Technique), Brassman is able to vanquish the 3 B’s (Boredom, Banality, Blindness).  You will thrill at the architectonic design of this unusual piece!

“Who is Brassman?” you ask.  I’ll give you a hint.  He has seven positions!

 

GESTURES

Instrumentation:  trombone, piano, narrator, solo dancer, dance ensemble (3)   

Description:  Ah yes, the dichotomy between gestures and substance or, if you prefer, between quantity and quality.  Do you really want to live in a world of meaningless gestures?

This humorous multi-media piece is easy to put together and will give you a chance to get to know some dancers.  The dance ensemble and pianist provide a visual/aural foundation while the solo dancer and narrator spew forth a steady stream of gestures.  As for the trombone, well, you will have to decide if his part has substance or is just some more gestures.  Remind you of life?

 

THE LECTURE

Duration:  9:15                      

Instrumentation:  clarinet, piano, narrator

Description:  Remember those student evaluations you wrote in your college courses?  Bet you never thought they would become the text of a counter culture theatre piece.  Be sure your narrator knows how to whine.

 

VARIATIONS FOR UNACCOMPANIED CLARINET

Duration:  9:00   

Instrumentation:  unaccompanied clarinet

Description:  The clarinet player kept “bugging” me for a solo to play so I gave him the clarinet part from The Lecture and told him to play it as an unaccompanied clarinet solo.  You don’t think this will work?  Well, if the composer planned it that way, it just might!  But you better listen again.

 

ORDER

Duration:  8:15 minimum        

Instrumentation:  narrator and any number of brass, woodwind, or percussion

Description:  Establish some order in this six movement work.  Follow the flow chart.  All the permutations work.  Some traditional notation with lots of graphic notation.  Play with whatever band musicians happen to be around.  Sorry strings, maybe next time.

 

NO TECHNIQUE

Duration:  21:00 (short version) or 42:00 (long version)

Instrumentation:  3 trombones (short version) or 6 trombones (long version)

Description:  “Trombones Rule” in this texture-based piece.  No technique in the traditional sense but rhythmic activity keeps it moving.  Long reflective 21-minute piece or use the relief squad (3 additional trombones) to turn it into a 42-minute piece with the second half being a mirror of the first half.

Makes a nice contrast with Musography on a recital program.  Your complete recital program could be:

  1. Musography (2nd squad)
  2. No Technique (42-minute version) (1st and 2nd squads)
  3. Musography (1st squad) 

Now that’s innovative programming!

Recording available from CD Baby

 

WHITE ON WHITE

Duration:  12:15

Instrumentation:  string quartet

Description:  Ever see the paintings of Robert Ryman?  Lean, Spartan, and nothing but white paint on white paint.  Forces you to look everywhere in a desperate attempt to establish order, coherence, and form.  No detail is too small in this search.  Imagine the relief you feel in finding something to hang onto.  Imagine the joy you feel when you realize your powers of visual perception have been expanded.  Want to hear the aural counterpart to these paintings?

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 For more information about Stanley Schumacher and his compositions, visit the New Music USA Online Library 

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