for clarinet and wind ensemble (2009), 11′
Commissioned by Rebecca Danard and the Cincinnati Youth Wind Ensemble, Jared Chase, conductor.
instrumentation: solo cl, 3 fl, 2 ob, 3 cl, 2 bn, 4 sax (2 alt, ten, bari), 4 hn, 3 tpt, 3 tbn, euph, tuba, electr bass, pno, keybd synth, timp, drumset, 2 perc
Performed by Rebecca Danard and the Cincinnati Youth Wind Ensemble at CCM, University of Cincinnati, March 2010.
The initial inspiration for Pet Rock was the music of Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, and other 1970s R&B acts. I wanted to evoke the sound of this music, but at first I was unsure how to structure it. Then I began to notice similarities in the formal structure of certain 70s R&B songs (long verses over static harmony alternating with shorter, punchy refrains) and the ritornello form of Baroque concerti (alternation of solo and ritornello passages) and decided to conflate the two ideas. While composing this piece, I was also immersing myself in the classic works of American minimalism. Processes like those in the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass seemed a nice way of structuring the long static-harmony passages in this piece, and I also enjoyed the 1970s connection—70s pop meets 70s minimalism. All in all, it’s an odd mix of styles—Wonder plus Glass plus Vivaldi—but like its namesake, 1975’s fad item par excellence, Pet Rock is a strange sort of beast.