Just in time for Halloween, here’s some scary monster music. Even scarier than the music itself is the story behind the music:
When I arrived at the University of Pittsburgh, I had already spent four years experimenting with a variety of compositional techniques–12 tone, aleatoric, set theory–and I thought I was ready to “find my voice.” My comp teacher felt the same way. But when I brought some drafts to my first lesson he played through them and told me, “these could be really great as, like, comic relief to something more substantial.” Little did he know, these were my actual ideas.
In any case, I knew it was going to be a long semester, grad program, and possibly life. I realized that nothing but the most off-the-wall musical offerings would satisfy this particular prof, so I invented a non-repeating scale and wrote a page or two of uninspired, non-committal, but forward-thinking music each week before my lesson.
He loved it.
However, the ensemble that was contracted to perform the piece at the end of the semester was not as convinced. The percussion player said “I don’t want to embarrass myself,” and the flutist, who was Amy Phillips-soon-to-be-Scheer’s teacher said, “Greg needs to learn to write for the flute.”
By the way, “Tavala” is a word that came to me while I was sleeping. Little did I know it was a Polynesian island.