for solo cello
commissioned by Vanessa Belknap, cellist
This piece tells multiple different stories in a single way, and the story that unfolds is determined by the performer.
The first movement—Foreplay—is characterized by extreme register shifts combine with a tradeoff between strongly modal and semi-tonal harmonic centers. The leaps into the higher register could be understood as cries of pain, or abrupt transitions from one mood to another, or even a separate voice that is always present in the movement despite not always sounding. Harmonically, the movement can be understood as stable (modal) and unstable (semi-tonal), or two different personalities attempting to have a conversation.
Serious Business is built upon a simple rock bass line that I picked up from a song entitled Hey, Bulldog from the Beatles 1969 soundtrack Yellow Submarine, though I would not be surprised if the idea was present in multiple pop tunes found before and after this album. The register shifts are now much faster—coming out more as interruptions to the riff—while the harmonic language is nearly exclusively modal, suggesting a unification in conversation or action from the previous movement. The idea is that whatever was left unresolved in the first movement is now embraced and alleviated within this one.