February 26, 2009

DOLORES - now a hymn for vibraphone & organ

I casually offered to Mrs Whiting Smith (pictured here after solving the Case of the Runaway Roto-Toms) to write a piece for her percussion & organ recital. She politely declined, but then a few days later, called me & told me to write her a piece immediately. (Apparently one of the programmed pieces was ridiculous or something.) I spent all yesterday arranging one of my folk hymns into a dramatic & loud piece for organ & vibes. The original song was an arrangement of a cheesy Christian pop song from 1990, but in this incarnation, you would be hard pressed to recognize the original (the melody has all but disappeared, it's more like variations on the soprano & bass harmonies in the folk hymn.) Anyway, I know this isn't of much interest to readers, until I can post a recording or something, but I wanted a moment to revel in the immediacy of internet - I can be gee-chatting with a friend in Cincinnati on Monday, spend Tuesday composing, post a rough draft of the score to a photo album that night, & they can read thru it on Wednesday morning. (There's a slideshow of the score here, remember it's only a rough draft. I need to fix up some things, like put the vibraphone part onto one staff. & since I don't know how to write for organ, I left the part pretty vague & will fill it in with suggestions from the organist. Also, my friend's scanner is pretty clunky, so there's some distortions in the score.)

They're also programming Nico Muhly's Beaming Music, which you can hear at his website here.

The name "Dolores" is usually short for La Virgen María de los Dolores, virgin Mary of Sorrows. Since the hook of the original christian tune is "go west, young man", for mysterious theological reasons which happily fit in perfectly with the theosophy of my Western Shape-Note hymnal (like for instance, see the lyrics to this song), I thought Mission Dolores, the original mission on the peninsula, best represents the ultimate Californian destination. Mary's sorrows, of course, are her burdens & her grief, so there is a bit of the pain-is-pleasure aspect found thru-out Christianity; & altho this piece doesn't really have anything to do with Virgin Mary, I like the subtle meanings of that word.

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