Blue Laws

I had the great pleasure of meeting George Lewis at the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Carman Moore kindly introduced us.

There is an essay by George Lewis that is getting around and making quite an impact. Among many other points, Lewis calls for Blues based music.

I've been doing that. My focus was on avoiding the tendancy we had as ambitious Americans to adopt a German Expressionist aesthetic. I always felt that was insanely inauthentic. And I did look to the blues for a different grounding.

Manuel Ponce did that also. 2nd movement of his Sonata for Gutiar and Harpsichord is Mexican blues.

I think of the blues as a way to on-shore the European techniques, to bridge to them. I am writing here now to draw attention to something that Carman and I have in common. We both get to weird whacky modern via the blues.

Here's Carman doing it very transparently --

It's self explanatory.

My little set, "Blue Laws" was written for the Gunnar Berg Ensemble. *Blue Laws* is a volume of essays by the great poet Kevin Young. I set three poems by Keving Young, basing my harmonic language on this blues principle --

C minor pentatonic is wonderfully out over VI7 and II7. It's out over V7 and I7, but less so. It's a lovely convergence that always touched my heart, especially when the turnaroud quadruples the harmonic rhythm with I7 VII7 VI7 bIII7 II7 bVI7 V7 bII7

So in my set, Blue Laws, I made that into a harmonic principle --

Carman & I were in Copenhagen at the same time when Blue Laws got its first performance by Gunnar Berg Ensemble and Music Montag, with great thanks to Jens Rossel. It was a chilly October during Covid. You and I were among the few who did not let Covid stop our peregrinations.

Interesting that neither of us sound particularly Third Stream. Poison Oasis, just a touch with those jazzy flute licks? I'm not the one to judge that.

And here is a gallery of pics from my day at the American Academy of Arts & Letters. I was so pleased to be there to recognize the achievements of so many remarkable composers.

Carman Moore and Eve Beglarian

Left ? please identify
right -- George Lewis

Menzie Chinn, economist, left
Laura Schwending, composer, right

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