Percussion Keyboards Strings Winds Mixed Ensembles Electronic              

Traffic Lights
for various instruments and drum set

Works nos. 112, 116–119


    I completed Sin aliento the previous year, and it felt like my take on post-rock; after some troubled times in 2017 (reflected in e.g. the Two Studies for solo MIDI-controlled piano), I felt I needed to turn to rock and pop music for inspiration again; I started making sketches for pieces involving a drum set accompanying a traditional Western orchestral instrument. Then Saint Etienne's Home Counties came out that year, and the song Whyteleafe made me think of Baroque Pop... This led to Red Light, for harpsichord and drum set, structured like a pop song in 40-second verses, but without a refrain. The form and the harmony seem to spell "pop music", but the beat never becomes regular, and lives as it would in a Western art music context. It felt like a celebration, like a return to my roots because I never really listened to classical music until I was in my twenties.

    For the next piece in sequence, called Yellow Light, I turned to metal music. As in Red Light, the melodic instrument's part and the form betray the popular culture inspiration, but the rhythms take the music someplace else. There is a repeating pattern here, like there would be in e.g. black metal (my point of reference being Emperor's early albums, or Darkthrone's), but it's not at all straightforward, and barely registers as a pattern. Finally, for Green Light, vocal jazz by the likes of Patricia Barber was what inspired the music. I think it's the most successful of the three pieces, achieving a stylistic balance. To me, the vibraphone sounds like plaintive singing, and the drum part seems perpetually lost – finding a regular 4/4 beat almost at the end of the piece, but ultimately losing it in the final bars.

    The solo drum set pieces were composed concurrently with the chamber pieces. The titles of both are an inside joke. They are not, strictly speaking, performable as written, and the drummer must get creative to interpret them. They're independent works, as are the rest of the entries in the series.

    Red Light – PDF score   Huancaina – PDF score   Yellow Light – PDF score   Guacamole – PDF score   Green Light – PDF score

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