About this Recording
8.559663 - WOLOSOFF, B.: Songs Without Words (Carpe Diem String Quartet)
English 

Bruce Wolosoff (b. 1955)
Songs without Words

 

When violinist Charles Wetherbee first approached me with this project I was a bit hesitant. I’d written for Chas several times before, as soloist, chamber artist, and concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony, and know that he is a fantastic musician who can play just about anything ever written for the violin. This time, he wanted me to write rock and jazz based music for the newly formed Carpe Diem String Quartet, but still in my own voice as a composer. I couldn’t quite get my head around what that meant.

I’d played in rock bands as a kid while pursuing my studies in classical piano. Back then, we kept it all separate. Gradually, over the past decade or so, the music which I loved so much when I was younger began creeping ever more steadily into my compositions. What started out as tinges of jazz and blues in essentially modern classical pieces was beginning to dominate the work. In pieces like the ballet The Passions or the trio Blues for the New Millennium, entire sections were based on blues and boogie-woogie. In these cases though, the music would morph back and forth between modern classical and other styles, or attempt to walk the line at the place where they meet.

I’d played in rock bands as a kid while pursuing my studies in classical piano. Back then, we kept it all separate. Gradually, over the past decade or so, the music which I loved so much when I was younger began creeping ever more steadily into my compositions. What started out as tinges of jazz and blues in essentially modern classical pieces was beginning to dominate the work. In pieces like the ballet The Passions or the trio Blues for the New Millennium, entire sections were based on blues and boogie-woogie. In these cases though, the music would morph back and forth between modern classical and other styles, or attempt to walk the line at the place where they meet.

Several of the songs are inspired by blues form: The River is a gentle meditation on the blues, Blues for Stravinsky a modal jazz composition in which successive choruses overlap by four bars, Dancing on my Grave a rowdy Texas blues, for string quartet!

Most of the other songs follow a verse and chorus format. A personal favorite is After Hours, a jazz ballad played so beautifully on this recording by violist Korine Fujiwara.

A couple odd ones: Reverence, which reminds me of late Beethoven, grew out of my jam session on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen (the title refers to movements of bowing and respect sometimes done at the end of dance class). Creepalicious, which began as an experiment with a nine-note tone row, is my contribution to the distinguished canon of Hallowe’en music.

All titles were added after the music was completely written. The quartet preferred titles to Italianate tempo terms like Allegro and Andante because they thought an audience might find them helpful as another way into the music.

As Carpe Diem started playing these pieces, I was surprised by the degree of enthusiasm people were displaying. This music is so much lighter and happier than my previous work. Did that imply that it’s not as serious? I worried what my composer colleagues would think. I wondered: is music with a happy aesthetic any less valid than dark, depressing, gnarly, and complicated “serious” music? Imagine my new-found joy at the possibility of writing music that my friends might want to listen to for pleasure.


Bruce Wolosoff


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