Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Dark and wild piano piece

My own Weegee Photos. Premiered by Jenny Lin on my Strathmore concert in April. Based on dark, very film noir photos by Weegee, who photographed emergencies and crime scenes in New York in the 1940s, and sold the pictures to the tabloids.


That's one of his photos, called "Gunman Killed By Off-Duty Cop
at 344 Broome Street." Weegee is a cult figure now, a recognized artist. Shows in museums.

So these are eight piano pieces based on his work. Here's the score. Plus a link to Jenny's Strathmore performance. This is hard music. She played heroically. So I dedicated the piece to her.

Maybe my favorite…

…of the photos is this one, "Heat Spell." People sleeping out on the fire escape because it's too hot indoors:


Maybe that's my favorite music in the set, too.

And about the music…

Kind of wild. Very dark. Until it bursts out in a crazy boogie at the end:


Two pieces couldn't possibly be played as notated (the excerpt comes from "Car Crash"):


Rhythms too crazy. And you, the pianist…your hands are everywhere at once.

But Jenny played them!

Car Crash  

Simply Add Boiling Water 

In the introduction to the score I give the advice I gave Jenny:

Just smile when you look at all the zany tuplets, and treat what you see on the page as, in effect, graphic notation. Showing you more or less what happens when, but without any thoughts bout exact rhythm.

Maybe first play at a leisurely tempo, stopping the flow when you need to, till you get the notes under your fingers. Then — and this is the key to making the music sound as I wanted it to — practice using computer renditions of the two pieces (which you'll find online) as click tracks.

And of course I give links.

I may have…

…other performances coming up. But I'd be thrilled to have more, to bring back 1940s New York, its darkness and humanity. To give my creation more life, and make pianists happy with it.

As I say in the score:

These pieces may well still challenge you. But I think they'll reward you, too. In performance they're powerful.

Original Content: Dark and wild piano piece

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