Instrumentation: soprano saxophone, bassoon, live electronics, and turntables (optional)
Duration: 9 minutes
Commissioned by Sonic Circus (Dana Jessen, Michael Straus, and Erik Spangler).
World Premiere: May 31, 2008. Sonic Circus. Chicago, IL
When I found out about the instrumentation of the group (saxophone, bassoon, and turntables) I was excited because I had not had the opportunity to write for turntables before. This got me thinking about all the music I loved which uses turntables as a musical instrument and of course the majority of that was hip-hop and electronica music. So I took this as an opportunity not so much to have a lot of fancy scratching sounds (although there is that) but to explore the world of breakbeats. The piece is structured in two main parts (or movements), separated by a turntable solo. The first movement, entitled “A Subtle Infraction”, begins the piece in a completely different sonic world than the breakbeat funkiness of the ending. The electronic sounds in this section (apart from the turntables) are derived from live sampling of the sax and bassoon via Max/MSP. The second part is entitled “Sizzle Fridges”; here we enter into the world of funk and breakbeats, although not without a few surprises along the way. The final section of the piece features a duet between two of the most famous breaks of all time, heard in thousands of hip-hop and electronica songs: James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” and the “Amen Break”.