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.