Five Cummings Songs

Program notes

This is the earliest piece I still play for people, written in my senior year of college, when I was searching for an alternative to the atonality of my teachers. (It's the piece that got me into grad. school!) The first song is actually a (loosely) twelve-tone piece, but the music quickly expands to encompass jazz and impressionist ideas. I like the piece because I feel I can hear in the music some of the concerns that still motivate me now, more than twenty years later.

The texts are by E. E. Cummings (who by the way used capitals when writing his name!) I was originally attracted to the writing because of some formal analogies between his writing and Milton Babbitt's compositional techniques; but as I wrote the piece, I realized that doing justice to Cummings's expressive range required some new musical techniques.

Instrumentation: Piano and voice