Insects: A Musical Entomology in Six Legs
(Flute & Basson)
|For Checks and money orders
Composers often look for fanciful themes and titles, and one of the most
successful is Saint Saens "Carnival of the Animals." I have created a
carnival myself, a musical entomology where each leg or movement is a musical
picture of a different insect. "Leafhoppers Dig Ragweed" pokes fun at the
traditional ways that rags are usually performed. You may hear that my rag
has more dissonance than Scott Joplin would have used. In a middle section,
each instrument tries to outdo each other with leaps and jumps.
The second leg is called "A moment in the Meadow" and sounds like an August
evening where two insects are chirping together and against each other,
drifting in and out of phase. Since the melodic fragments are short and
simple, this leg is a minimalist work, an intentional tip of the hat to the
composers Phillip Glass and Steve Reich who popularized the style.
The third leg is Mr. and Mrs. Flea, and as in any marriage, they often agree
and disagree in predictable fashion.
Composers and performers enjoy challenges, and the March of the Ants is
composed entirely of whole tone scales which have an unusual sound. Usually,
one instrument plays he melody while the others accompany. But here, each
instrument has to simultaneously play the melody and the accompaniment.
The distinctive feature of a firefly, is his glowing tail, and to convey this
image musically, I settled on trills. Other movements use a lot of short
phrases with staccato notes because to my ear, that is the way that
leafhoppers and fleas move. But fireflies float and hover, so the phrases
are long and flowing, and the poignant melody belongs almost entirely to the
flute, the most firefly-like wind instrument.
The final leg is a cartoon, with a tip of the hat to Henry Mancini. You might
imagine that Chubby is like Mancini's Pink Panther, a loveable, jazzy and
cool sort of guy, even though he is a cockroach. Now there is no strict
scenario that you should envision for this cartoon, but as the movement
progresses, you may in your mind's eye see Chubby strut around, cautiously
investigating his surroundings. At one point, you he has a party in the
pantry where he finds bananas, or does he? Although Chubby is cool and hip,
I'm afraid that nobody likes a cockroach, so his life is in mortal danger
throughout the movement. I don't mean to alarm you animal lovers, and
pacifists, but there may be violence!!
-<Back to Books Scores >-