Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"More Greek Myths" on YouTube!

A performance of "More Greek Myths," a piece I wrote in 2007 for Susan Nigro, is now on YouTube!

Here are some program notes:

I. Apollo (begins at 0:01)
II. Artemis (begins around 2:15)
III. The Labors of Heracles (begins around 3:45)
IV. Aphrodite (begins around 5:56)
V. Dionysus (begins around 8:09)

The basic idea of this set of pieces is a progression from the Apollonian to the Dionysian. Apollo, the god of the sun, represents the ideas of individuality, critical reason, the artistic possibilities of human beings, and the concept of perfection. He is cerebral while Dionysus, who ends this set of pieces, is ruled by passion and instinct. He is the god of wine and is associated with intoxication, pleasure, loss of individuality and dissolution of boundaries. He is the god of excess, while his brother Apollo (both are children of Zeus) is the god of self-control.

After Apollo we get Artemis, who is Apollo's twin sister. She is the virgin huntress. The meter of her piece is 6/8, the usual meter of hunt music (Mozart's "hunt" quartet, etc.), and the ascending arpeggios are supposed to be like arrows flying into the air. The music is kind of self-contained: Artemis is content with her life on her island (where she prefers to live alone with the animals). Before Dionysus comes Aphrodite, the goddess of love. She represents everything that Artemis is not. The image that I had while writing this piece was that of Aphrodite (represented by the sexy voice of the contrabassoon) rising up from sea foam, as represented by the piano's rhythmic ostinato.

In the middle of the set we get Heracles. He is the only mortal in the lot. While all the gods around him get to bask in tonality (and Aphrodite gets all kinds of rich 7th chords), Heracles labors with a tone row, made more difficult by irregular meters, dotted rhythms, and a relatively slow tempo.

The title "More Greek Myths" came about because this is the second set of Greek Myth pieces I have written for contrabassoon and piano. The first set is called "Four Greek Myths," and "illustrates" the stories of Hades and Persephone, Icarus and Daedalus, Pan and Syrinx, and Echo and Narcissus.

No comments: