Charles Gayle: Spectrum Charles Gayle: Works

About the Composer

Charles Irving Gayle (1949-2011) was an American musician and composer. One of six brothers, he grew up between Sandston and Bottoms Bridge, eastern suburbs of Richmond Virginia. At 16, he joined the Richmond Symphony playing French Horn. He graduated from Randolph-Macon College, then served in the US Air Force. In the 1980s, after his service, he earned a Master's degree in Music Theory and Composition from Virginia Commonwealth University while managing the VCU Performing Arts Center. This was an important and productive time for him as a composer. After his separation from VCU in the mid-1990s, he worked for Tower Records, and then Colonial Downs as A/V manager.

In 2000 Gayle was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, a terminal lung disease. On 1 May 2001 he received a lung transplant that gave him nearly ten more years of life. Despite his compromised health, changed lifestyle, and the constant medical issues, he composed prolifically during his post-transplant years. He dedicated the work Overture to Unframe to the organ donor whose lung let him continue to create.

Sincere thanks to the organ donor whose lung allowed my father to continue to create. Without their generosity, much of this music would not exist.

Charles Gayle: Works

Here is a listing of the music that Charles Irving Gayle composed. It is fragmented and incomplete, and more will be added as I continue to sort through the thousands of pages of manuscripts and hundreds of audio recordings. Titles are those assigned by the composer himself. The year is either the year of copyright assignment, the year stated on the manuscript, or an estimate based upon the composition style, the staff paper, and other factors. Some compositions are revisions to or derivations from previous compositions, I will attempt to cross-reference these as I recognise them. Each entry in the list is a composition for which I have a score. Some scores are original manuscripts, handwritten on staff paper. Some scores, starting in the late 1980s when he started using a computer, are computer printouts. Works from the 2000s I have in digital form, mostly Finale. If you want a particular score, please contact me. There are also sound recordings for many of these, though sadly most of them are computer-generated, not performances by actual musicians (check the notes at the bottom of this page, and see his essay The Place of the Composer in the Music Community).

The entries are organised by decade, then year, then alphabetically. Gayle organised many compositions into titled collections, these are listed in bold by collection title with the member compositions listed within. [MP3] denotes music you can listen to here. [PDF] denotes scores with the file size. [number] are footnotes, mostly commentary on the pieces by the composer. [YT] links to the playlist for the collection on the Antonomasia Productions YouTube channel.

If anyone has additional information, please don't hesitate to share. I am particularly interested in information about public performances of any of these works (two of the ballets and several other pieces were performed publicly in the 1970s, but I have found little information regarding those performances).

Copyright Statement: I, Benjamin Gayle, am the owner of rights to all material posted here. Visitors to this site are encouraged to download and listen to the music. For any other use (commercial, public performance, etc.), please contact me.

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  • Circus, for Orchestra
    • I. Clowns
    • II. Lion Tamer
    • III. High Wire
    • IV. Broken Wagon (Burlesque)


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Years: [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [Unknown]


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Years: [1987] [1988] [1989]


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Years: [1990] [1991] [1992] [1994]

  • 1990: [1990s]
  • 1991: [1990s]
  • 1992: [1990s]
    • CARNIVAL! [4] [YT]
      • 1. CARNIVAL! [MP3]
      • 2. Midway [MP3]
      • 3. FUNHOUSE [MP3]
      • 4. Ferris Wheel [MP3]
      • 5. Waltz of the Trampoline [MP3]
      • 6. Mechanical Juggler [MP3]
      • 7. Gargantuan Babes [MP3]
      • 8. Mr. Bluster's Dancing Derby [MP3]
      • 9. Antique Shuffle [MP3]
      • 10. Little Lost Bear and the Fortune Teller [MP3]
    • Fred Bear [YT] [4]
      • 1. Fred Bear [MP3]
      • 2. Favorite Toys [MP3]
      • 3. Quiet Time [MP3]
      • 4. Tea and Honey [MP3]
      • 5. Grumpey's Noisemakers [MP3]
      • 6. Chasing Butterflies [MP3]
      • 7. Carousel [MP3]
      • 8. Toy Box Cafe [MP3]
      • 9. Lost Under the Bed [MP3]
      • 10. Sailboats [MP3]
      • 11. Friends in the Attic [MP3]
      • 12. Credits - Talking Balloons [MP3]
    • Jalopy [4]
      • 1. Jalopy [MP3]
      • 2. Crushed Paper Swans [MP3]
      • 3. 2 Weird Sisters - 1 Leather Skirt [MP3]
      • 4. Animated Pink [MP3]
      • 5. Marmelade Tights [MP3]
      • 6. Painted Ship - Painted Ocean [MP3]
      • 7. She Uses Both Hands [MP3]
      • 8. Umbrella of Mirrors [MP3]
      • 9. Funny Bone
    • 7 Lucky Elephants from Michigan [YT] [4]
    • Tea and Honey, for piano (left hand) flute and guitar [MP3] [4]

  • 1994: [1990s]
    • Ten Piano Pieces I: For Fractured Adults (Folio) [1]
      • 1. Dog's Name is Fred [MP3]
      • 2. 'Scraps' of Time [MP3]
      • 3. She's Like a Gentle Breeze [MP3]
      • 4. Happy [MP3]
      • 5. Hymn for 'Grandma Griffin' [MP3]
      • 6. Picture of You [MP3]
      • 7. Skeletons - Halloween Boogie [MP3]
      • 8. Old Times [MP3]
      • 9. Bear's Name is Fred, Too
      • 10. Julie's Bounce [MP3]
    • Ten Piano Pieces II: A Day In the Life of a Child (Folio) [2]
      • 1. Rainy Day (Sarabande) [MP3]
      • 2. Rude Interlude (Rondo) [MP3]
      • 3. The Sun Comes Out (March) [MP3]
      • 4. Cheap Sunglasses (Urban Pastorale) [MP3]
      • 5. Strange Animals (Rhapsody) [MP3]
      • 6. Walking Through the Aviary (Elegy) [MP3]
      • 7. The Kite and the Tree (Burlesque) [MP3]
      • 8. Children Playing (Song) [MP3]
      • 9. The Balloon Man (Pantomime) [MP3]
      • 10. Bedtime (Lullaby) [MP3]
    • Ten Piano Pieces III: A Little Jazz (Folio) [1]
      • 1. Night Out [MP3]
      • 2. Square Blue [MP3]
      • 3. Nice & Tight [MP3]
      • 4. Queen Anne's Lace [MP3]
      • 5. Face in the Crowd [MP3]
      • 6. Heat of Your Touch [MP3]
      • 7. Quiet Storm [MP3]
      • 8. Turning the Corner [MP3]
      • 9. Got That Feeling [MP3]
      • 10. Both Feet on the Ground


[Sections] [Top]

Years: [2003] [2004] [2005] [2009]


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  • [1] Studio performance recorded by Charles Irving Gayle. Piano: Tom Jennings
  • [2] Studio performance recorded by Charles Irving Gayle. Piano: Denise Thebo
  • [3] Studio performance recorded by Charles Irving Gayle. Piano: Carrier; Cello: Anna Bakker
  • [4] Performed and engineered by Charles Irving Gayle, using keyboard, midi sequencer, and hardware sound modules.
  • [5] Performed by computer, using Finale and software sound modules.
  • [6] Composer notes on Waltz at Sunset : At the mall is a kid's ride. The music is much like the atmosphere at a carnival or fair. This music blends in with the mall 'muzak'. I enjoy the effect. With the Waltz at Sunset I have tried to achieve a similar result through the use of a technique called bitonal writing or music written in two keys. Example. Play a melody in say, C Major. In the left hand play an accompaniment in Bb Major. In the right hand play additional harmony or counter melodies in G Major. It's fun! I frequently use bi-tonalism to manage involved harmonic issues. An F13 chord can be a combination of chords in two keys. (In Jazz, the 9th, 11th and 13th are referred to as upper tensions.) Bartok used artificial scales and their respective key signatures to maintain a consistent harmonic scheme or 'sound'. Example. A piano score, the left hand would have a key signature of an Ab and Db. The right hand, a key signature of F#. Although this may seem odd at first, a consistent sound continues throughout the composition. Remember. None of this is difficult. All of the notes are on the piano. You just have to find them. [BACK to Waltz at Sunset]
  • [7] Composer notes on Dance: Light on the Water : A key to the structure: ex. two or more ryhthm patterns together result in a pattern apart from the original individual patterns. Subdivided patterns result in larger composite patterns. ex. a rhythm of 2 and a rhythm of 3 coincide every 6 beats. Every 12 beats there can be larger divisions of 5+7. And so on. Enjoy the intricate activity but listen to when the subdivisions coincide. [BACK to Dance: Light on the Water]
  • [8] Composer notes on Drunken Owls : You can see them in the park at night, falling through the trees, big puffy heads ricocheting off branches like a pinball machine in the moonlight. Lying under the kids swing sets in the morning. Cans and bottles strewn at the feet of large oaks. It's a plight. They hang out in back of the 7 eleven during the day. A couple of owls hit me up for money on my way out to the bus. The owls sit around the pool in their lawn chairs-sunglasses-bright Hawaiian polo shirts. The women are all but naked! Or as we say in Roanoke, butt naked. Their feathers clog up the pool filters. This is job for city council. The matter will be addressed early next week. [BACK to Drunken Owls]
  • [9] Composer notes on Tusk-a-loosa Airport : Arrival of the Band at the 'Tusk-a loosa Airport'. Fred Elephant, the leader of the Band, his girlfriend, Packadementia, their agent Adolphous Rhinoceros and the boys in the band. It's a media circus! They are swept away in a Limousine with plenty of 'trunk' space. [BACK to Tusk-a-loosa Airport]
  • [10] Composer notes on Cruisin' : 'Crusin' with Fred, Packadementia and the boys in the band. [BACK to Cruisin']
  • [11] Composer notes on Bicycles : After an ice cream treat, they ride 'Bicycles' and visit their relatives at the zoo. Fred sees his cousin, Amanda the Panda and her sister, Pandemonium. Aldolphous Rhinoceros tires to 'horn' in on a couple of ostriches jumping rope. [BACK to Bicycles]
  • [11] Composer notes on Summer Night : Fred gets a shower at the local car wash while Packadementia has her nails done at the 'Tusk-a-loosa Larger Animal Boutique'. All of this in anticipation of a romantic riverboat cruise under the stars on a warm 'Summer Night'. [BACK to Summer Night]
  • [13] Composer notes on The Elephant Stomp : The show. The 7 Lucky Elephants from Michigan play their smash hit, 'The Elephant Stomp'. [BACK to The Elephant Stomp]
  • [14] Composer notes on Gallant : Fred and Packadementia dressed in their native costumes take a stroll for their admiring fans. A harpsichordist plays a 'Gallant' for the occasion. [BACK to Gallant]
  • [15] Composer notes on Avacadoes Won My Heart : 'Avacadoes Won My Heart'. [BACK to Avacadoes Won My Heart]
  • [16] Composer notes on Souvenir : Fred buys a box of chocolate covered explorers and Packadementia finds a statue of Dumbo for the folks back home. [BACK to Souvenir]
  • [17] Composer notes on Out Dancing : 'Out Dancing' with Packadementia at the 'Toy Box Café'. The piano player is 'tickling the ivories'. Fred is exhorted to get out on the dance floor and strut his stuff. "Get down Frederick, you wild jungle beast". Packadementia tenderly holds Fred's trunk and tells him that he is her only true elephant. (About 'Out Dancing'. At one time, I had a fine stereo system. David Cordle, the Chairman of the music Department, an admitted hi-fi freak, came over one night to listen. He said the sound is great. (Infinity speakers, Nakamichi amplifier and tuner, Denon CD player, Harmon-Kardon cassette deck). But, he said, the speakers are backwards. I had put on the Richard Strauss 'Don Juan'. David noticed that the strings were on the right-they should be on the left. I realized that I had set up the speakers from the perspective of a horn player. If you notice, in an orchestra. the horn player is facing the audience, and the strings are on the right. I used to play back up (flugelhorn riffs) for pickup bands. We did dances. From a player's point of view, on the dance floor, we saw an embarrassing display of people pretending to be uninhibited, sexy or just desperately trying to have fun. It was arguably the most dull, boring, monotonous experience a player can have. Did I say, embarrassing? 'Out Dancing' is written from a player's perspective.) [BACK to Out Dancing]
  • [18] Composer notes on Credits : 'Credits'. To be continued....... [BACK to Credits]
  • [19] Composer notes on Overture Toy Box Cafe : There is a food fight among the toys. Afterwards, they are all taken to the laundry room to be scolded by the 'Council of Cleaning Procucts'. [BACK to Overture Toy Box Cafe]
  • [20] Composer notes on Sunrise at the Zoo : The Animals and the Zookeepers prepare for another busy day at the Tusk-a-loosa Zoo. [BACK to Sunrise at the Zoo]
  • [21] Composer notes on The Panda Family : The panda Family proudly appear for their daily introduction to the admiring crowds. [BACK to The Panda Family]
  • [22] Composer notes on Ethyl's Old Car : Ethyl, Amanda and Pandemonium's mother, drives around the zoo in her old car. You can hear it clank and chug along as she goes about her daily errands. Although the car doesn't have any wheels, Ethyl thinks her car is magic. Sit back in Ethyl's car and enjoy the ride! [BACK to Ethyl's Old Car]
  • [23] Composer notes on Flamingo Strut : Flamingos teach Pandemonium the 'Flamingo Strut'. In return, Pandemonium displays her collection of paper swans, paper clouds, and paper galaxies. She has a real future 13 billion years ago. As for dancing, clearly the Flamingos have a 'leg up' on Pandemonium. It is rumored that Pandas have two left feet (but you didn't hear that from me). [BACK to Flamingo Strut]
  • [24] Composer notes on A Song for Children : Pandemonium plays a new song for the children at her piano recital. Amanda desperately tries to keep her Father's buddies, Fred Elephant and Adolphous Rhinoceros, away from the refreshments. [BACK to A Song for Children]
  • [25] Composer notes on Parade! : The Tusk-a-loosa Zoo holds a parade once a week for the visitors. The Animals wear their native costumes. The Zebras wear their stripes, the Leopards their spots, and of course the Flamingos their best pink suits. [BACK to Parade!]
  • [26] Composer notes on Cleveland's Day Off : Cleveland is a big guy. He is Amanda and Pandemonium's Father. Cleveland wears a sun visor and smokes a cigar. He looks forward to visits by Fred Elephant and Adolphous Rhinoceros. They get together and play cards. [BACK to Cleveland's Day Off]
  • [27] Composer notes on Amanda's New Dress : Amanda shows off her new sundress designed by Miss Petunia Ostrich, the neighborhood seamstress. [BACK to Amanda's New Dress]
  • [28] Composer notes on Memories : Ethyl and Cleveland long for their home in China, a land their children will never know. [BACK to Memories]
  • [29] Composer notes on Credits : The Animals prepare for the annual Zoo 'throw down'. The 'Slightly Perpendicular Blue Grass Band' provides entertainment. Giraffes oversee the activities. Ethyl and her children, Amanda and Pandemonium, set up a booth. Ethyl sells brightly colored parasols made from bamboo shoots and the comics from the Tusk-a-loosa Gazette. The children sell lemonade for 10 cents a pound. (This is my first try at writing 'bluegrass'. I like the rhythms.) [BACK to Credits]
  • [30] Composer notes on Mechanical Birds : Cleveland Panda takes his family out for a day in the playroom. His wife, Ethyl, packs a picnic lunch. (After eating, they certainly feel like 'stuffed animals'). Cleveland has a collection of remote controlled mechanical birds. You can see the afternoon sun glancing off their metal wings as they soar high in the air. The children, Amanda and Pandemonium, like to see the birds in flight. They are careful not to guide them too close to the closet. The closet is the home of the legendary Falcon, the protector of all toys and stuffed animals. [BACK to Mechanical Birds]
  • [31] Composer notes on Robots Can Party2 : Robots dance in the moonlight. But it's not the music that makes them dance. (The fundamental dance pattern is a bossa nova in 5/4. However, the bass heard immediately clearly defines a 4/4 division. The melodic interest plays off of the 4/4, but I have used the additional option of using the cyclic pattern, 5/4 (rhythm)against 4/4 (melodic), to create further variations: five 4/4 measures equal four 5/4 measures. The resolution comes every 20 quarter notes, or every four 5/4 measures. This creates the ambiguity you have in determining the specific dance rhythm. I will always give the listener a clue. This happens with the counter melody, a dotted quarter plus a dotted quarter plus 2 quarter notes. This counter melody in 5/4 establishes the connection between the melodic plane (4/4) and the rhythmic plane (5/4). You will note that later in the piece I reorganize the 3+3+2+2 pattern (a quarter note being 2 eights)into 3+2+3+2 which is a subdivision of 5/4 into two 5/8 configurations. The technique of 'permutation and combination' defines the individual sections while maintaining their rhythmic integrity.) [BACK to Robots Can Party2]
  • [32] Composer notes on Fanfare! : The morning Sun looks through the window into the playroom and finds shadows stretching across the walls and floors. Carousels from Sweden, puppets from Germany, Clocks from Amsterdam, stuffed animals from China. Toys from all over the world gather to celebrate another day in the Toy Box. [BACK to Fanfare!]
  • [33] Composer notes on Clocks : Time is one of those things that isn't your friend, and isn't your enemy. It is Time. What does the clock do? It hangs on the wall and says "tic-toc, tic-toc, tic-toc". Every now and then you can catch the clock watching you. [BACK to Clocks]
  • [34] Composer notes on Carousel : Wooden horses live on the carousel. They go round and round and round and round . . . You can jump on the carousel and ride for a while then jump off, jump on and jump off, jump on and jump off, jump on and jump off . . . (The carousel or music box is a different take on rhythm. The unique sound is created by the uneven, hesitating pattern caused by the mechanical nature of the carousel or music box. To write a piece using this effect has been a challenge.) [BACK to Carousel]
  • [35] Composer notes on The Piano : Smiles and frowns live in the Toy Box. If you want to see them, look in the mirror. If you want to hear them, listen to the Piano. [BACK to The Piano]
  • [36] Composer notes on Marble Clowns : Marble Clowns guard the toys that have been bad and make sure that they do not escape into the playroom and cause any more mischief. The clowns get paid two ballons a week and all the laughter they can eat. [BACK to Marble Clowns]
  • [37] Composer notes on The Closet : The closet is the home of the great Falcon. The closet is a great source of strength, and a great source of fear. If you listen carefully, you can hear the Falcon knocking on the door late at night trying to get out. [BACK to The Closet]
  • [38] Composer notes on Would Puppets Dance : A pretty Ballerina puppet! Although she is made of wood and dangles from strings, her movements are unique and, in a curious way, very graceful. [BACK to Would Puppets Dance]
  • [39] Composer notes on No Rest Without Love : Something dreadful is going to happen. Mothers cuddle their children at night. They know there is no rest without love. No Rest Without Love is clearly a love song. Whatever I decide, I have less than 3 minutes to do it. That is a real consideration. For the general public there is an emotional intensity that must be satisfied early on-not everyone is as patient as you. You are right, the melody is 'disturbed' too soon. I say disturbed because I question that the addition of voices so soon does not enhance the mood, but confuses and even frustrates the flow. The piece was intended to be a duet between a bassoon and an alto flute. And I was happy with that. However, to reach a wider audience I feel a pressure to 'enhance' the haunting simplicity and create more of a full bodied sound that the public requires/demands. I am gradually being introduced to the musical community in Roanoke. There are some fine musicians in the area. Note that the composition is scored for a woodwind quintet. (Flute, oboe, English horn, clarinet and bassoon.) A simple duet would try the patience of a live audience-a quintet is more likely to hold their attention. I do not want to risk a bad reception of a composition that has become so personal for me. For five musicians on stage, they all need something to do during the piece. It makes an audience uncomfortable when two or three play for a large part of the time and the rest have nothing to do. How do I deep them busy and not undermine the natural logic of the work? That is the challenge. Basically: 1) I want to reach a wider audience. 2) I would like a live performance. 3) I also want to keep the original innocence of the piece. 4) The arrangement needs to be more strategic — but what to do with the players that are sitting out a large part of the piece? As a general rule, the public will choose the increased activity and color over simplicity. I know this from my years of arranging for the Air Force and other groups. This is a question of balance. This is where I earn the money I will never be allowed to have!! Laugh, damn it....... [BACK to No Rest Without Love]
  • [40] Composer notes on Queen Anne's Lace : The composition Queen Anne's Lace is not about the melody. The melody is simply the occasion for a composition about descending and ascending lines. In the opening, you can hear an initial 2 bars of intervals moving in a downward direction. The second 2 bars follow with a like set of intervals moving in an upward direction. Listen, then to the slow descending line. It repeats. Then, there is an ascending line, a build, and that repeats. The music is about descending and ascending lines. And with each line, there is a variation in the amount of harmonic tension. An experiment: When you listen, physically conduct the music. Follow what you hear with your arms. You will feel the stretching, the elastic nature of the harmonies. You can feel the arms drop as the line descends and you will notice a physical effort to lift the music as the line ascends. The increased harmonic activity (dissonance) is there to accentuate this movement. The piece is not about the melody. The melody is the opportunity to explore descending and ascending lines and the effects different degrees of harmonic tension and different instrumental combinations have on the overall structure of the piece. Up and down in direction, up and down in tension. As I suggested, as you hear the music play, let your arms respond to the lines. I am certain that you will connect, both physically and emotionally, not with the melody, but with the intention of the composition. [BACK to Queen Anne's Lace]
  • [41] Composer notes on Chiaroscuro : About Chiaroscuro. While working at the Richmond Public Library in my senior year in high school, I was encouraged to read-a lot. One of the books I remember was Vasari, Lives of the Artists. In the chapter on da Vinci, Vasari mentioned the technique 'chiaroscuro'. I liked the rhythm of the word-and the sound. As you know, chiaroscuro deals with the perception of depth, using light. The three elements of this technique are direct light, highlight or reflection and shadow. There are so many levels of sensitivity in shadows. 'Chiaroscuro' was originally intended to be a hard rock piece, existing somewhere between a train wreck and a mental breakdown- with slap bass, brass riffs, distortion guitar, alto saxophone and a driving rhythm track with a hard back beat. I couldn't figure out why it didn't work for me. Then I thought about Vasari and the technique of chiaroscuro and I rewrote the piece for a string ensemble. I think it works. You mentioned in your description 'determination to escape' and actually used the word chase. Oddly, I was considering the title 'Chasse'. But I have too strong an association with hunting horns and their consonant perfect fourth and fifth harmonies to feel comfortable with chasse as a title for this piece. When I lived in Boston, I would go to MIT and see foreign films. I remember The Battleship Potempkin, music by Prokofiev, and a couple Bergman films. The black and white images were fascinating. I read the screen plays to the Bergman films. How do you fill that silence? Or as Morton Feldman, a contemporary composer would say, 'disturb the atmosphere'. [BACK to Chiaroscuro]
  • [42] Composer notes on no Estampe? Bye Estampe! : Estampe is a 13th and 14th-century dance form with various sections that have first and second endings. As you can tell, I have taken a few liberties. You can hear the 1st Trumpet saying bye-bye at the end. no Estampe? Bye Estampe is more like Jackie Gleason saying, 'a little traveling music Sam-and away we go!' Just some foolishness from Charles. [BACK to no Estampe? Bye Estampe!]
  • [43] Composer notes on An Empty House : I have titled this piece An Empty House because I think it captures the contradictions we feel when leaving a place that has been our home for part of our life. The composition is a series of 'scenes' as if the listener were taking a final tour. There is a sense of familiarity mixed in with an eerie sense of detachment. [BACK to An Empty House]
  • [44] Composer notes on Entr'acte : I have written Entr'acte as a musical game. Entr'acte is an unusual display of counterpoint-in this composition, the interplay of 4 independent 'voices'. The version I have sent you is scored for woodwind quintet. (One of the 'voices' requires two players). Each of the four 'voices' is 4 measures in length. Unlike a 'Round', entrances can be made at any time during the 4 bar phrase. The player can play any of these voices in any sequence, regardless of the register. (a bassoon, as I have demonstrated, can play the voice introduced by the flute). The choices can be spontaneous or planned. The ensemble can play one, two, three or all of the voices at any given time. I have structured the 'voices' to accomodate all of these possibilities. This 'improvisation' aspect of Entr'acte is unlike the improvisation in jazz. In jazz, the player has a melody and a sequence of chords. Scales associated with these chords provide the choices for the player to improvise on the melody. The Entr'acte provides the player with a set of fixed 'voices', and the player, instead of choosing notes from a scale, chooses one of the four voices. You will hear in this version: The bassoon begins the game. The clarinet is the second to enter. The third entrance is the combination of the oboe and horn. The flute completes the fourth voice. The clarinet drops out. All play. The first part closes with only the flute horn and oboe playing. Notice in the second half that the bassoon enters and the oboe, an octave higher plays the same voice, only one measure later. The clarinet plays the flute part while the bassoon plays the clarinet part, and so on. The possibilities are endless. [BACK to Entr'acte]
  • [45] Composer notes on Invention 5: March (Winds) : A note: Invention No. 5 may need some explanation. This invention is written in the style of Carlo Gesualdo (1561-1613), an Italian Renaissance composer. Gesualdo primarily wrote madrigals. His music was highly chromatic and dissonant. I study the Renaissance because it is a rich source of contrapuntal techniques. Renaissance music was based on counterpoint and was written before the codification of the tonal system. The voices in Invention No. 5 are at the interval of a perfect 4th, an interval allowed by the Church during this period. I have tried to capture the modal eccentricities and odd phrasing that characterized Gesualdo's music. The harpsichord is used as the accompaniment and the tuba is a contemporary version of a figured bass. Essentially, Invention No. 5 is a 20th Century observation of the compositional choices of a very unique 16th Century composer. [BACK to Invention 5: March (Winds)]
  • [46] Composer notes on Fanfares for Four Flushers : An actual Flush in poker consists of 5 cards of the same suit. If you have 5 consecutive cards of the same suit, it's a Straight Flush, and if those 5 cards run from 10 thru Ace, it's called a Royal Flush. A cheating Four Flusher will show his hand, with only four cards of the same suit, and the 5th card obscured in such a way that anyone taking only a quick glance will think it's a true 5-card flush. [BACK to Fanfares for Four Flushers]
  • [47] Composer notes on Fripperies : As an interesting anecdote, I first heard the word Frippery as a title for a collection of pieces written for horn quartet. They were certainly curious and at time lapsed into nonsense but I remember that they were great fun! [BACK to Fripperies]
  • [48] Composer notes on Passepied : This Baroque dance called the Passepied {päs-peyay} (Fr.; Eng. "Paspy") meaning literally to 'pass the feet' which was a form of the Branle, which came to France from Brittany in the early fifteen hundreds and some believe that it can be traced back to an earlier date. It has been said that it originated by the sailors of the Basse-Bretagne. It was basically a Minuet, only much faster and done with a quick step which was sometimes called the 'Fast Minuet'. It was also known by the name of Rigaudon (same as the Rigadoon). It was also described of as a sort of Bransle. [BACK to Passepied]
  • [49] Composer notes on Disambiguations : Disambiguation is the process of resolving the conflict that occurs when articles about two or more different topics have the same natural title. To find Passepied, you can search for Baroque Dance, 'pass the feet', Branle, sailors of the Basse-Bretagne, Minuet, 'Fast Minuet', Rigadoon and Bransle. [BACK to Disambiguations]
  • [50] Composer notes on Valse : Waltzes (French-Valse) typically have one chord per measure, with the bass of the chord as the first note. As with other dances, waltzes were sometimes composed which were not intended to be danced to, but which were intended purely for concert use. I have chosen the spelling Valse because of my admiration of Maurice Ravel and his Valses Noblese. A minuet, (French - menuet; German - Menuett; Italian - minuetto) is a dance usually in 3/4 time . The word was adapted, under the influence of the Italian minuetto, from the French menuet, meaning small, pretty, delicate, a diminutive of menu, from the Latin minutus. The word refers probably to the short steps, pas menus, taken in the dance. At the period when it was most fashionable it was slow, ceremonious, and graceful. The dance was frequently included in Baroque keyboard and ensemble suites. Italian minuets, often in 3/8 or 6/8 time, were faster. The minuet was the only important dance to survive info the Classical period. I have categorized this piece as a waltz because of the distinguishing characteristic of the one chord per measure. Minuets, particularly Baroque minuets, do not emphasize this feature. This is the difference between Bach's Minuet in G and the Blue Danube of Johann Strauss, Jr. [BACK to Valse]
  • [51] Composer notes on Sarabande : The *sarabande* is a slow, sensuous dance in triple meter, with the accent on the second beat. The *chaconne* is a slow instrumental piece in triple meter, constructed as a series of variations on a harmonic progression or a bass line. A *passacaglia* is a slow, stately dance in triple meter, often with a repetitive theme or bass line. The important distinction of the *sarabande *is the emphasis on the second beat. This is a close call, but I am going with the dance form, sarabande. The choice is admittedly debatable. [BACK to Sarabande]
  • [52] Composer notes on Syrinx in the Wind : The syrinx is a primitive wind instrument consisting of several parallel pipes bound together. Claude Debussy (1862-1918) wrote Syrinx, the first 20th century unaccompanied flute solo, as incidental music to a play by Gabriel Mourey, which told the story of the mythical creature Pan. Syrinx in the Wind, like Debussy's work, contains tonal ambiguities. This element of ambiguity qualifies it as part of the collection of Disambiguations. Syrinx was an Arcadian river-nymph who was pursued by Pan. To escape him she fled into the waters of her river where she pleaded the gods for help, and they changed her into a reed. Disappointed, Pan cut the reed into pieces of gradually decreasing lengths, fastened them together with wax and thus produced the shepherd's flute, or "pipes of Pan", upon which he plays. [BACK to Syrinx in the Wind]
  • [53] Composer notes on Camel Dance : (from a plaque titled "The Camel Dances", which now hangs above my desk [Ben]) The Camel had her heart set on becoming a ballet dancer. “To make every movement a thing of grace and beauty,” said the Camel. “That is my one and only desire.” Again and again she practiced her pirouettes, her releves, and her arabesques. She repeated the five basic positions a hundred times each day. She worked for long months under the hot desert sun. Her feet were blistered, and her body ached with fatigue, but not once did she think of stopping. At last the camel said, “Now I am a dancer.” She announced a recital and danced before a group of camel friends and critics. When her dance was over, she made a deep bow. There was no applause. “I must tell you frankly,” said a member of the audience, “as a critic a spokesman for this group, that you are lumpy and humpy. You are baggy and bumpy. You are, like the rest of us, simply a camel. You are not and never will be a ballet dancer!” Chuckling and laughing, the audiences moved away across the sand. “How very wrong they are!” said the Camel. “I have worked hard. There can be no doubt that I am a splendid dancer. I will dance and dance just for myself.” That is what she did. It gave her many years of pleasure. [BACK to Camel Dance]
  • [54] Composer notes on Beneath a Shade Tree : I am very excited about this piece. I hope that the result is not primarily a compositional achievement. There are three sections. 1) The original version. 2) The original version inverted or played upside down. 3) The original version, also inverted, but with the application of a non-linear key change. [BACK to Beneath a Shade Tree]
  • [55] Recording notes on Peaks of Otter : This track was recorded on a mono cassette tape recorder, the type that was about the size of a shoebox with a handle, set down on the stage between the two instruments. I [Ben] did what I could with what I had to work with, salvaging the audio from a cheap tape more than forty years old. A professional audio engineer would probably have done better. This is the only recording of this piece that I have. [BACK to Peaks of Otter]
  • [56] Composer notes on Acoustic Shadows : Listen to what is not happening — the silences. I hope you will hear a rocking motion. Music is gestures. Sound is only a part of it. Listen to Shadows. Pantomime the sounds with your hand, face and body movement. While the music is still in your head, repeat the gestures in silence. The music is still there! You are connected. As a composer, I find ways for people to connect. And I call them compositions. I watch people’s movements and gestures and write what they tell me. I am a unique type of clerk. And at 54, happy to be of some use. [BACK to Acoustic Shadows]
  • [57] Composer notes on Another Year : Another Year is a collection of compositions written in celebration of ‘another year’ of life, the fourth complete year after my lung transplant in May of 2001. The collection is also an appreciation of family, friends and doctors who have made ‘another year’ possible. It is also looking forward to ‘another year’ of life. [BACK to Another Year]
  • [58] Composer notes on When I'm Next to You : When I’m Next to You is written for alto saxophone, flute, trombone, marimba, percussion and taiko drum. The piece is an animated conversation between the alto sax and flute. [BACK to When I'm Next to You]
  • [59] Composer notes on Ricercar Placido : The Ricercar Placido, written for String Orchestra and Organ, and ‘Doloroso Piacere, written for Chamber Orchestra are my two very personal impressions of the death of Pope John Paul II. [BACK to Ricercar Placido]
  • [60] Composer notes on Study in Whole Tones : Study in Whole Tones for piano is an etude based on whole tone motifs and alternating rhythmic patterns. [BACK to Study in Whole Tones]
  • [61] Composer notes on Doloroso Piacere : The Ricercar Placido, written for String Orchestra and Organ, and ‘Doloroso Piacere, written for Chamber Orchestra are my two very personal impressions of the death of Pope John Paul II. [BACK to Doloroso Piacere]
  • [62] Composer notes on Smile in a Short Skirt : A Smile in a Short Skirt is a dance pantomime. The story is of a calliope player at a state fair who wins the heart of a pretty city girl. The calliope represents the young man. The music box represents the city girl. The voices are the people milling about who sing when they notice the flirtation between the calliope player and the city girl. All join together at the end. Wish I had a calliope. Wish I had a pretty girl! [BACK to Smile in a Short Skirt]
  • [63] Composer notes on Another Year : The composition Another Year is my most ambitious project to date and my second attempt at an extended composition. The piece is written for full orchestra and choir. [BACK to Another Year]
  • [64] Composer notes on Dream Games : Dream: a futile attempt to tie my shoes while chasing a bus. [BACK to Dream Games]
  • [65] Composer notes on Bedtime for Father Shanley : Wednesday, February 16, 2005. Defrocked priest Paul R. Shanley, a central figure in the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison on child rape charges Tuesday to a burst of applause from some of those who accused him of molestation. Based on the hymns: Jesus Loves Me, Abide With Me and Amazing Grace. [BACK to Bedtime for Father Shanley]
  • [66] Composer notes on Opium for Starving Children : (a tragic lullaby) Saturday, February 19, 2005. KABUL, Afghanistan — Disease fueled by freezing weather has killed more than 120 Afghan children, and desperate parents are feeding their children opium in a bid to alleviate their suffering, the health minister said Saturday. [BACK to Opium for Starving Children]
  • [67] Composer notes on Them Feets in the Sand : Mambo Racines Voodoo Boot Camp, school and peristyle in Jacmel, Haiti. She also teaches her initiates, her ‘children’ who are American, Dutch and also Haitian, Hunsis. [BACK to Them Feets in the Sand]
  • [68] Composer notes on Scenes for Homeless Toys : Incidental music for abandoned memories. [BACK to Scenes for Homeless Toys]
  • [69] Composer notes on Provocation at Twilight : This is a rewrite of A Grammatical Algorithm. The original piece for piano has undergone considerable changes in its adaptation for five woodwinds; flute, clarinet, oboe, English horn and bassoon. There are a lot of notes. Several years ago I was very impressed with a recording of Warner Brothers Cartoon Music. The composer, of course, was Carl Stalling. The CD was titled, The Stalling Project. If you ever watched cartoons, you may remember all of the very busy, virtuoso wind work. This was the genious of Starling. This composition, A Provocation of Twilight is playable by competent musicians. I realize that this piece is not for everybody. Just follow the theme and its variations as it is passed off betweeen the different instruments. [BACK to Provocation at Twilight]
  • [70] Notes on Das Haus von Wittgenstein : I (Benjamin) found this project in the masive collection of backup discs that Charles left. I have little background information, other than that he was apparently collaborating with a fomer VCU colleague Lisa Crutchfield-Barth, though the music was derived almost entirely from his previous works. The two audio CDs that he left are unplayable. I generated new sound recordings from the scores that I found, and can only hope that the result is what he intended. The note [71] on Einsamkeit is the only commentary on the work that I have found so far. [BACK to Das Haus von Wittgenstein]
  • [71] Composer notes on Einsamkeit im Wittgenstein Haus : I originally titled this piece “Syrinx”. Background...Wikipedia “Syrinx is a piece of music for solo flute which Claude Debussy wrote in 1913 (L 129). It is commonly considered to be an indispensable part of any flautist's repertoire. Many musical historians believe that "Syrinx", which gives the performer generous room for interpretation and emotion, played a pivotal role in the development of solo flute music in the early twentieth century. "Syrinx" was originally written by Debussy without barlines or breath marks. The flautist Marcel Moyse later added these, and most publishers publish Moyse's edition. "Syrinx" was written as incidental music to the uncompleted play Psyché by Gabriel Mourey.” So I thought, why not call it my composition“Psyche”. Background...Wikipedia “Psyche is a word of Greek origin, which etymologically means "breath of life", animating the body.” Seems fitting for a composition for flute. So the double entendre 'shrink'. Background...Wikipedia “A double entendre is a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is intended to be understood in either of two ways. In most cases, the first meaning is straightforward, while the second meaning is less so; often risqué, inappropriate, or ironic. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a double entendre as especially being used to "convey an indelicate meaning". It is often used to express potentially offensive opinions without the risks of explicitly doing so. There is also the triple entendre and another variation, the sous-entendre (verb) or sous-entendu (name), which mean literally "under meaning", that is, with a hidden meaning under the primary meaning. What is the point of all of this? Ludwig Wittgenstein saw psychoanalysis as a myth masquerading as science, acquiring dangerous persuasive powers from the confusion. Syrinx would make a very tempting oblique reference to Ludwig Wittgenstein's views of Freud. But the danger that in trying to be clever, the Opera becomes superficial — losing focus while being witty. Ludwig Wittgenstein did much of his work with language. He thought that through logic, linguistic misunderstandings (like the purpose of the double entendre) could be eliminated. Oddly, at the end of his life, he did an about face and discovered that it was the ambiguity of language that accounted for its richness and beauty. Back to Syrinx. In my trusty “Webster's Encyclodpedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language”, the entry for 'syrinx' is as follows: 1. Ornith. The vocal organ of birds situated at or near the bifurcation of the trachea into the bronchi. 2.Class. Myth. A mountain nymph of Arcadia who was transformed in order to protect her chastity from Pan, into a reed from which Pan then made the pan-pipe. 3. a panpipe. 4. a narrow corrider in an ancient Egyptian tomb. So “Syrinx” could be a pun for 'shrink'. It could be the vocal apparatus that produce birdsongs, or a Greek turned into a reed to protect her from a zealous Greek god or the instrument he made from the reed, the pan flute or a stroll through an Egyptian mauseleum. Translate this into the Wittgenstein's home and you have the sound of a flute, birds chirping, a young woman in danger of losing her virginity all while strolling through a home that appears to be a shrine of death. About the couple dancing on the table aka Cirque du Soleil. Example: Quidam: a nameless passer-by, a solitary figure lingering on a street corner, a person rushing past. It could be anyone, anybody. Someone coming, going, living in our anonymous society. A member of the crowd, one of the silent majority. The one who cries out, sings and dreams within us all. This is the "quidam" that Cirque du Soleil is celebrating. A young girl fumes; she has already seen everything there is to see, and her world has lost all meaning. Her anger shatters her little world, and she finds herself in the universe of Quidam. She is joined by a joyful companion as well as another character, more mysterious, who will attempt to seduce her with the marvelous, the unsettling, and the terrifying. So here is Einsamkeit im Wittgenstein. [BACK to Einsamkeit im Wittgenstein Haus]
  • [72] Notes on Colors : This piece was dedicated to Pearl Fu and the brass section of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, and subtitled "Festival music for brass and perussion". [BACK to Colors]
  • [73] Notes on We Tango Alone 2021-03-20 performance: Titti Dell'Orco had contacted me [Benjamin] back in February regarding the We Tango Alone video that she found on the Antonomasia Productions YouTube channel [YT] I provided the score. About a month later she announced the concert, and provided me with the information [PDF] The concert was live streamed on the teletrulloTV YouTube channel. Titti also has her own YouTube channel featuring her flute performances [YT] [BACK to HOME]
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