Little Kingdoms

ENS.025 | 3/14/03-7.8.04, Completed 1.14.04 | 15’
3 Bb Clarinets

Midi Rendition of “1. The Little Kingdom of J. Franklin Payne”
Midi Rendition of “2. The Princess, the Dwarf, and the Dungeon”
Midi Rendition of “3. Catalogue of the Exhibition”

Performance of “Little Kingdoms” Movs. 1-2 (original version) by Ken Thomson and Peter Hess
Performance of “Little Kingdoms” Movs. 3-6 (original version) by Ken Thomson and Peter Hess
Performance of “Little Kingdoms” Movs. 7-8 (original version) by Ken Thomson and Peter Hess

Download PDF of Score

Little Kingdoms

I have always been fascinated by patterns. It was only a matter of time before this obsession began to creep into my music, eventually coming to dominate it. In 2003 I began to play with making pieces entirely out of eighth notes, culminating in the Music for Dancing series, composed between 2003 and 2005, which originally included such pieces as Cup and Saucer in the Path of a Mechanical Insect, Seascape, with frieze of girls, Sad Little Breathing Machine, The Acme Novelty Library, and Music for Los Angeles.

Though all of those works have since been split apart, recomposed, or withdrawn, they shared a common compositional impulse: rhythmic and harmonic materials were conceived independently and then superimposed upon one other in different ways and at different rates, utilizing systematic structures based on permutations to create a network of new, shifting musical relationships.

Named after an extraordinary, magical set of novellas by the author Steven Millhauser, the three movements that now comprise Little Kingdoms began as part of a larger piece for woodwinds entitled After the Quake, based on the book by Haruki Murakami. Later I realized that only these movements belonged together, and as they conjured a nocturnal world closer to Millhauser than Murakami, they were reordered, revised, and retitled accordingly.

In The Little Kingdom of J. Franklin Payne the clarinets outline shifting repeated patterns over slowly changing harmonies, while The Princess, the Dwarf and the Dungeon lurches along, exhausting every possible triadic combination within an octave. Finally, in Catalogue of the Exhibition two melodic lines of different lengths chase each other’s tails across an eerie harmonic moonscape, the three clarinets threading both lines through an intricate double hocket.