Thursday, December 12, 2013

Second movement — faux Bach

Or perhaps maux faux Bach. This happens after a brass fanfare on the head motive, because it's what I do. The second half here is a cadenza, and it's followed by a long, very slow fugato.

I believe that is Ranjith doing the meowing at the end of the excerpt, but I could be wrong.

Cadenza to WTF — two takes

When writing a cadenza for the pianist who taught you about stride, what do you expect to find in it?

Repeated notes, sure. Because that happened earlier. But …

Oh, what happens just before this? Duh, crescendo in the orchestra and sharp cutoff. It's another way I know how to end a section.

By the way — WTF is WTF? It's where, 40 minutes into the concerto, the piece starts again. That's what happens after Amy turned off the camera.

Third movement — H to J

Following on the heels of D to H, and due to the properties of the alphabet, the piece continues on apace. This time, what it doesn't mean is Hello to Julie! And here is where the sinister jazz somehow spawns a metric modulation (I've done that before, and so have other people), a texture change (string harmonics, rising wind gestures, and some other stuff), and soon … soon … there will be a passage for piano and celesta played at the same time, no waiting.

Mwa ha ha.

Third movement — D to H

Okay, I know you don't know what D to H means. It may as well be Dead to Him. But in this case, it's rehearsal letters, and it's in the I like to play jazz movement.

When first we come in, Amy is trading colors and licks with the winds, and since it's one of the few ways I know how to end a section, there's a big downward flourish. Because, uh, it's what I do.

And then it's the low sinister jazz music, which has a lot of repeated notes. Sorry about that, Amy.

This is, as always, provisional. And Amy is takin' names.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Second movement — take two

And here's the first stuff the piano plays in the concerto's second movement.

The movement is an elegy in memoriam Milton Babbitt, and begins with about three minutes of slow music in the orchestra, without piano. The piano takes a figure from one of the winds for its own sad music before it starts the speeding up process to the faux Bach part of the movement. Yes, the orchestra plays in the empty spaces there.

In the MIDI, this part sounds like horse doody smells. I'm glad we're not using the MIDI.

What happens in the orchestra after this? Why, a brass fanfare. I mean, duh.

Concerto opening — take two

Woo hoo! Here's the first three and a quarter minutes of the piano concerto in full HD res, with page turns, and a better camera angle. It's hard, and Amy nails it. Am I right? Am I right?

The orchestra "grows out" of the piano in this excerpt. Not an original concept by any means, but you know. At least it doesn't "grow tired" of the pianist.

What happens at the very end? Big, long chords in the strings, and fast figuration in the winds that slows down. And why? Because that's what I wrote.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What's up with the G-flat?

Here's another one of those non sequiturs. Because Amy had said she loved playing the Bach keyboard concertos, I listened to them a lot while writing the concerto, and this was the movement I listened to the most, especially on my iPod while walking through the Calanques. But what's up with that G-flat?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dorian Blue

The 72nd piano étude, originally written for Don Berman. It's an étude on two-hand flourishes, with its template three passes through an ancient Hebrew melody in Hypodorian mode.

Hypdorian Blue isn't a very good title. Neither is Hypoblue.

Toyed Together

Étude #88 Toyed Together for piano and toy piano given a real workout by Amy, in her place. I'm told that's not a scratch on Amy's toy piano, but glare from the lights.

Also, the art direction is tremendous. Note the patterns on the carpet toward the left.

I'm still having fun. Lots and lots and lots of it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ti Htiw Nwod Gniyl Ton

Here I say Not Lying Down With It backwards. Amy's idea.

Not not not not (the talking pianist)

The 74th étude is a talking pianist étude, and it'll go on this upcoming CD. The text is a poem by Rick Moody, and it's cr--a-a-zay. Amy is attacking it full on.

Amy has asked me to tell you to consider this a provisional performance, like everything else on the amy n davy show. Everything will get better. Speaking for myself, it already rocks.

Copyright © by CF Peters, and written for Adam Marks. Also cr-a-a-a-zy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Amy and Davy goes meta

The Toys That Bind

Amy got a Schoenhut toy piano at the end of August, and one of the first things she did with it is sightread the opening of my 88th étude, Toyed Together. It looks a rocking good time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Interesting ways to generate site traffic

About three dozen hits came to this site from a rather explicit online dating site, probably because one of the posts is called The Hard Lick.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This is one of those non sequiturs

I recall listening to this tune a lot when writing the concerto.

Monitor view

Some of that beginning music as it first appeared on the monitor they gave me to use at the Camargo Foundation.

At night.

Actually, I used it all day long. I just took pictures at night. For a higher spoooooky quotient.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


The beginning

After Amy sent me The Hard Lick movie in July, as a text (I was on a commuter rail train at the time), I texted back, "yeah, but what about the first six pages?" That's really hard, and relentless.

Minutes later, this one came back in a text. Which, later, I edited all the page turns out of. So this is what the piano does in the concerto for the first three and change minutes before it gets a break. The next thing it does after a half minute break is pluck a note. So there.

Yes, the orchestra plays and interjects during this music. Imagine it.

And here is the sketch of the opening several bars.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The hard lick

Apparently this is one of the hardest licks in the piano concerto, and Amy texted me this little movie in July. It was the first time I'd heard any of the piece on an actual piano. Uh, on playback on an iPhone.

This would be the sketch for that passage.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


There's a reason only one of us is the performer and only one of us is the composer.

(It's a Vine, so mouse over the movie to make the speaker icon appear, and click on the x for the sound)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Amy on Spotify

Traces, Piano Etudes, and Chant at the end of the playlist are by Augusta Read Thomas (thanks, Spotify). 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The postcards are traveling home

The chromatic turn figure that I dreamed permeates this piano concerto.

On this page, it looks like I tried to figure out the harmonization of that motive in my dream, or maybe I was sketching ways to develop the motive contrapuntally.

I believe the one on the third system went into the second movement.

What we talked about

Before I went to the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, to write this concerto, I had a long phone conversation with Amy about what kind of stuff to put in it.

When I did a presentation at Camargo, I made notes on how to present why I was doing what I was doing. This is my cheat sheet. I did the presentation after I'd written about 3 minutes of music, and I'm not sure I got to everything on it.

Bach? check
Ritornello textures (Martler)? no idea what that means, but I think I did it
Jazz? check
Martler opening texture? check
I like to play with percussion? check
Points on a Curve texture? not so much
Also play celesta? check

Yes, I had a "dreamed tune". That's the chromatic turn you see in the middle of the page. There are a lot of chromatic turns in the piece because of that dream I had just before I left for France. In the dream, it had a late nineteenth century kinda harmonization, and was for chorus and orchestra. The words to the tune were The postcards are traveling home.

Dreams. Ya know.

Also for instance!


Imagine I asked Amy what kinds of stuff she wanted me to write in a concerto tailored for her.

You don't have to imagine! I did, I did.

So Amy said, among other things, that she loves playing the Bach keyboard concerti. So I got all of them on my iPod and did calanque walks listening to them all — all the while wondering about the G-flats in the F minor concerto. Because I think I am programmed to wonder about that stuff.

And then I imagined an architecture for the slow movement of the concerto that mirrored the fast movement that preceded it: fast-slowish-fast in the first movement, slow, speeding up, fast, slow for the second movement. Me being me (how could it be any other way?), I got faster in this movement through metric modulations.

Because I'm worth it. You're worth it.

But the slow movement is also written in memory of Milton Babbitt, who died while I was writing the first movement (I don't mind saying I was devastated). So there's a lamenty thing with English horn soloes at the beginning and end — using the set from his Solo Requiem — and a piano solo that continues the slow music, and, and ... well, Amy sent me this as a text on August 22. The previous post has the slow music and the first Bach stuff.

This one is the contrapuntal stuff wherein I was trying to do Bach. The boogie woogie bass may have been accidental. And it comes right after a brass fanfare on the same motivic material. So there.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

So, for instance ...

Here's a video that Amy texted with the first piano solo in the second movement of Piano Concerto No. 2. So there you go. Date of this runthrough was August 22, and Amy recorded it on her iPhone.

Amy had called it supple and beautiful. I had only heard it in the midi, which sucked rocks. It turns out Amy was closer.

Here is the sketch for the opening of this passage.

The Amy and Davy show

This season Amy Briggs will be the soloist with BMOP in the premiere of Davy's monster Piano Concerto No. 2, on January 17. In June, she will record Études Volume 4 for Bridge Records, including all of Books VIII and IX, and a few others tacked on for good measure.

Can't say enough about the Jebediah Foundation, which commissioned the concerto, and which is covering some of the performance expense.

In this blog, we plan to document, with words and videos, progress being made toward all of that, with a few non sequiturs along the way. It's a work in progress, and it's a thrill ride for us. And we like it when you watch. Fish.