ROPE: Two Variations on a Bad Seed (2005)
    I. Bad Seed
   II. Lament Into Madness

for alto saxophone, 'cello and piano (17 mins.)

 

FRANK STEMPER

notes

ROPE

Like its Hollywood precursor, Rope (1948), a film experiment by Alfred Hitchcock in which he tells, in one continuous scene, the Nietzsche-related story of two intellectuals committing murder just to prove that they can, Rope (2006), a two-movement trio for alto sax, ‘cello and piano, is an attempt at a seamless study of musical line and lyricism, that develops, or perhaps dissects, a single musical germ from beginning to end, rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, without the introduction of contrasting thematic material except by way of variation, embellishment, ornamentation and especially heterophony, the fourth musical texture, in which slightly different variations of the same tune are performed simultaneously – often sounding improvised with tiny discrepancies (or errors) between versions, which, while achieving some degree of contrast, in this particular context is always related to the original statement throughout the 17 minute composition, including the interim between the first and second movements, as the performers adjust their instruments and music for the remainder of the piece, and you, the audience, take a break, cough, check your cell phones and make comments to the person next to you about the music, the musicians and/or your after-concert plans, a kind of no-man’s land within a composition similar to the Hitchcock model with its strange but regularly placed blackouts necessary because it was only possible to get 10 minutes maximum on a single reel of film before reloading the camera(s), with the second movement (Lament Into Madness) actually continuing the dissection of the original statement exactly where movement one (Bad Seed) concludes, continuing the analysis while uncovering more and more about the sinister tendencies of the motive, eventually coming down to examining the structure of a single cell, musical and neurological, much like the genetic code or DNA of psychosis, specifically, that which sociopathically always chooses bad over good, in this case first degree murder, even though the guilty party is merely being true to his internal instincts, having nothing to do with learned behaviors, and therefore is behaving honorably in this particular musical microcosm, even though this instinct is in fact dangerous psychopathic mental illness.  Good Evening.

 

http://www.frankstemper.com

 


Last Updated: March 8, 2010