THE TWITTERING MACHINE
for chamber orchestra or chamber ensemble
Commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, and first performed by David Stock conducting the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble in November of 1993.
1 Flute (dbl. Picc.)
NOTE: One string on a part if
commercial recording of the wind version entitled
California Counterpoint: The Twittering Machine
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The Twittering Machine was completed in 1993 with a commission from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, and first performed by David Stock conducting the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble in November of 1993. The title, Twittering Machine, is intended to express my life-long fascination with the work of painter, Paul Klee. Klee's Twittering Machine is both a drawing and a painting of four birds perched on a crank shaft. The drawn images are whimsical, puppet-like, mechanistic, ironic, and playful, reflected by the faster sections of my composition. These are set against a lyrical field of transparent color, represented by the slower sections of my piece.
I was especially drawn to the painting's biting humor; imagine what would happen to the birds if the crank shaft were turned! In my piece, I make attempts at humor through the use of repeated structures and denied expectation -- rhythms are displaced, passages are suddenly transposed or textures juxtaposed.
There are elements of danger in Klee's painting: arrows piercing some of the birds, a gaping hole or ditch the birds might fall into, and the presence of an exclamation mark which is a recurring symbol in Klee's work meant to suggest impending doom. The danger elements in my piece consist of many large silences, or musical holes, which the players risk falling into if they're not attentive.
Most important is my intention that the work, like Klee's Twittering Machine, convey movement -- that it engage the body as well as the mind -- that it "dance"!
Another standout was McTee’s The Twittering Machine. McTee is a name I’ve heard for years, but without encountering any of her music. This piece was really excellent – the scoring was clear and succinct, the ideas were vivid and clearly audible, and the piece really knew what it was about.