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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

Making Music with Matriarchal Consciousness

Musical Examples

by Batya Weinbaum

Example 1: Howl Brook

        Score excerpt from Howl Brook

Visualize: brook running, throughout.
Above is the basic piano. Enter one at a time while piano continues; flute, oboe, bassoon rocking between g and d.

        Score excerpt from Howl Brook

Enter strings, some variation, same modality.
Once all strings have entered, all improvise visualizing running brook, until natural peak and crescendo and brook dies.

("Howl Brook" was performed at the 1991 Vermont Composers Festival in Montpelier, without conductor.)

Example 2: Rhode Island Cove 1

1.00     Close your eyes and visualize water coming in from the Atlantic Ocean into a small cove. See gentle waves lapping against a large rock in a small protective cove. The water is blue; the rock, gray. Inhale and exhale three long breaths holding visual. Listen to others and breathe in sync.
2.00     Open eyes to read scores. Imagine that the first stroke in each instruction is the water coming in; the repetitive pulses are the gentle waves lapping the shore.
3.00     On piano, hit strongly and hold e, e' and e'' for three seconds.
4.00     Continue holding and gently, tentatively pulse g; distribute over 5 seconds 15 strokes starting fast and slowing down:

                                 0  1  2  3  4  5
        Time line:  seconds      +--+--+--+--+--+
        gently, tentatively      =============> g
        slowing, approx.

5.00     Shift to d, d' and d'' in a loud stroke holding 3 1/2 seconds.

                                0  1  2  3 1/2
        Time line:  seconds     +--+--+--+-+
                                ===========> 3 d's,
                                    one long stroke

6.00     Continue holding d's. Gently, tentatively, pulse 16 times f over 4 seconds, slowing as you go.

                                0  1  2  3  4
        Time line:  seconds     +--+--+--+--+
        gently, slowing         =============> f

7.00     Repeat 2-5
8.00     Hit strongly and hold c, middle c and c' 2 1/2 seconds.

                                0    1    2 1/2
        Time line:  seconds     +----+----+--+
                                ============> 3 c's

9.00     Continue holding; gently pulse e 10 times over a period of 7 seconds.

                                0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
        Time line: seconds      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
                                ===========> e,
                                gently, slowing

10.00     Repeat 8-9.
11.00     Repeat cycle 3 times.
12.00     Gradually add any subtle variation in pitch, dynamic, rhythm.
13.00     Add one by one any available instruments: cello, violin, bells, another piano if possible. Each instrument comes in after 1 cycle of previous instrument, with all eventually playing by visualization of water, rock and cove. Each drops out in order that joined after playing of 3 cycles, together with all joined instruments.

Duration: 7-15 minutes, depending on number of players and instruments.

Example 3: Rhode Island Cove 2

Repeat previous piece with "woman's instruments" found in the home: vacuum cleaner, mix master, hair dryer, broom, knitting needles. As in:
For: vacuum cleaner, broom, mix master, knitting needles.
1.00     Players close eyes and visualize water coming in from the Atlantic Ocean into a small cove. See gentle waves lapping against a large rock in the small protective cove. Water is blue; rock, gray. Hold this for three long breaths. Listen to other players and breathe in sync.
2.00     Open eyes to read scores. Imagine that the first stroke in each instruction is the water coming in; the repetitive waves are the pulsing on the rock.
3.00     Hit strongly and hold for three seconds on vacuum cleaner:

        Time line:  seconds     0    1    2    3
                                =======> continuous vacuum cleaner

4.00     Gently pulse 15 times on a broom over a period of 5 seconds, rapidly at first and then slowing.

        Time line:  seconds     0  1  2  3  4  5
        Gently, tentatively, fast then slowing
        Approximately broom strokes <===========

5.00     Repeat 3-4 two times.
6.00     Shift to mix master and knitting needles:

        Time line:  seconds     0  1  2  3 1/2
        Mix master, one long stroke <========
        Time line:  seconds     0  1  2  3  4
        Knitting needles, stitching quickly and
        slowing; 16 approximately <==========

7.00     Repeat #6 two times.
8.00     Continue three times more with vacuum cleaner and broom adding in. Each couple plays its cycle 3 times, not necessarily in sync. One by one, instruments drop out in this order: vacuum cleaner, mix master, knitting needles, broom.

Duration: approximately 1 1/2 minutes.

Example 4: The Ancestors

    (This piece illustrates the utter pomposity of male form.)

Instruments: piano, flute, cello; feather for baton; breath of players and audience; voice of audience.

1.00     Instruments are arranged in a semi-circle: piano, flute, cello. Instruments are to the left of cellist and flautist, on floor. Pianist is posed, white gloves to wrists, angled with feet on either side of pedal, elbows to waist, fingers pointed to octave above middle C, aligned with knees pointing under forearms also in similar direction.
2.00     Conductor, using feather for baton, is standing in the front in the center with right hand poised above left breast, pointing baton to left, right elbow out. Heels are together, toes spread.
3.00     All players breathe. Conductor conducts, from pointing straight to left, to raising right arm completely up in the air pointing baton straight up.

Baton: Baton Mation in the Ancestors
All players:

4.00     Without missing a beat, conductor turns to audience and instructs, in the course of eight beats, still conducting players behind with pointed finger of left hand, while conducting audience with same motion of right hand:

        upbeat:         join
        downbeat:       us
        upbeat:         place
        downbeat:       feet
        upbeat:         on
        downbeat:       floor
        upbeat:         in
        downbeat:       out

Conductor does this breating fast and hard, in and out, expanding chest and making breathy sound with each word. Without missing beat conductor returns to direct players.
5.00     Conductor, without missing a beat, raises left ankle slightly and locks it behind right heel. Behind back with left hand, conductor continues to direct audience in their breathing while he conducts with feather-baton in right hand. Internally, all players add a repetiton of words:

        Baton:  across, up, point; return / across, up, point; return.
Breathe: Breathings Mation in the Ancestors
oh the ancestors know / and the ancestors live
and the ancestors know / the answers to give.

(Scores marked in non-mensurate time because exact beats are determined by unison breathing of players at performance.)
(Point corresponds with peak of breath and the break between third and fourth syllables in words.)

Baton continues throughout. All players go on with breath and internal repetition syllables as one by one instruments are added on. Conductor indicates with nod of head as players add and subtract:

6.00     Add: piano, hands sliding down on last exhale to:

    R     Piano Phrase #1
    R     Piano Phrase #2

      (flute player leans down and gets flute)

7.00     Add: flute
Continue: baton, breathing, meditiation, piano. Cellist picks up instrument in last two measures of flute's frame.

      Flute Phrase

8.00     Add: cello
Piano, meditation, breathing, flute, baton go on.

      Cello Phrase

9.00     Without missing a beat, conductor turns and conducts players with backhand and audience with feather-baton as before. Inhaling on the upbeat, exhaling on the downbeat, he instructs:

        Upbeat:         whis-
        Downbeat:       per
        Upbeat:         these
        Downbeat:       words
        Upbeat:         in
        Downbeat:       time
        Upbeat:         please
        Downbeat:       nods to audience with head,
                        as he had given other
                        players instruction, before.

He repeats, in time: oh the ancestor know / and the ancestors live / and the ancestors have / the answers to give.
He gives eight beats to audience to whisper. If necessary, at end of eight counts he extols AGAIN; at the end of another eight LOUDER and at the end of another eight AGAIN until the audience whisper is actually heard. From this point on, conductor has the freedom to face either audience or group and continues specific directins with nods. Flute drops. Player returns instrument to floor. Cello drops. Player returns instrument to floor. Piano stops. Player folds hands on lap and bows head. Conductor turns to audience to conduct last eight beats. The first three of which he indicates to audience "now wind down" and bows at the end of the phrasing, and feather under left breast, left hand extended to continue line behind, pointer (index) and finger+thumb together making an "o"; left three fingers up, right leg behind left foot, heel up, toe to floor, and after his bow, all players bow and applaud the audience for whispering with shouts of "bravo". Cellist and flautist pick up instruments; all file out stage right, conductor leading, then, pianist, then, flautist, then, cellist.

("The Ancestors" was performed at the 1989 Vermont Composers Festival in Putney. Batya Weinbaum conducted.)

Example 5: The Peace of Vermont

For: Piano to be added on to by other instruments
    1.00     The peace of Vermont in the wintertime
    2.00     The lapping of the lake on the shore
    3.00     The snow falling down
    4.00     The trees all around
    5.00     Who could ask for anything more
1.00     Sit with hands facing up on knees and breathe slowly while going over the lyrics visualizing each image.
2.00     Say out loud "the peace of Vermont in the wintertime", hitting d on each syllable.
3.00     Holding the last d down, using pedal, right hand glissando's down the white notes one time. Keep pedal down 3 seconds after glissando is finished.
4.00     Repeat #2 with lyrics: "the lapping of the lake on the shore".
5.00     Repeat glissando with pedal this time to g. Hold pedal three seconds.
6.00     Using the rhythm of the words from line 3, work your way down the black notes one syllable each starting on e-flat four.
7.00     Pulse d twice in two seconds, holding the black note last hit.
8.00     Using the rhythm of line 4 continue down black notes.
9.00     Pulse d twice again.
10.00     Using the rhythm of line 5, work down the next 5 black keys. Stop on f-sharp and repeat on the syllables "anything more" in five seconds, hitting the bottom d in sync the last few times. With little finger of left hand, hit next d down, and run glissando. Left hand (d) beats simultaneously from "ask for anything more" with pedal. Final glissando goes to d.
11.00     Repeat in free variation 2 to 7 times, expanding the range of the d's as well as the black notes. The only element that remains the same is the rhythm of the lyrics.
On first variation, add softly with glissandos, 3 beats on the triangle to the rhythm of "wintertime". Let it serve as an echo. Let it vibrate. Second time, echo the syllable "shore". On lines three and four, add triangle with d pulsating. On line five, triangle hits all beats.
Use original last line, going wherever your imagination takes you, but try: mixing d and g, any d and g; glissando on white or black; single notes on the right; mixing all the elements till you get the right blend.

Performance Piece for Women's Chorus

The Welcomer
by Batya Weinbaum
with thanks to Stephen Reynu

complete freedom given to arranger

  1. Chorus stands in semi-circle on stage facing auditorium.
  2. Conductor moves to stage right and reads or recites:
    Women in Central Africa used to be the "greeters" when men would return from hunting or trading, after the influence of the Muslim empire. In the Bagirmi area, they would "ululate", droning on a high tone while the men would report events in their travels. Let's have everybody try it. "Yah yah yah yah yah yah" at the highest pitch of your voice.
  3. Conductor draws out audience participation with right hand, choral participation with left. Plays with sound building as long as possible, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Conductor indicates finish with hand.
  5. Conductor:
    Very good. Now, do we have a volunteer from the audience to come forth to the stage and tell a story? The idea, you tell a story of what you did, what you conquered in the world today. Like, I woke up, got out of bed, drove to the supermarket, spent 35 dollars ... yes, very good. No, let's have a woman please -- yes. Let's sing praises to a woman's story.
  6. Volunteer from audience is coaxed up. Conductor gives coaxing if necessary -- chorus ululates in response, providing an expressive backdrop for the story. Storyteller returns to seat. Very good, says conductor; calls for more volunteers. Piece continues for a total of three volunteers. If necessary, conductor indicates that cleaning house and child care can make a perfectly legitimate "story".
  7. Applause by conductor and chorus when last story is done.
  8. Possible discussion on nature of piece and authenticity, depending on audience and context.

Performance time: 20 minutes
(c) by Batya Weinbaum

("The Welcomer" was performed at the 1991 Vermont Composers Festival in Montpelier. Batya Weinbaum conducted.)