Parallel Movement of the Hands

ENS.2024.1 | 14′


I. The History of Photography

II. The Art of Finger Dexterity

III. 21 Variations on My Room

Parallel Movement of the Hands

Parallel Movement of the Hands pays homage to the late, great poet John Ashbery, taking its title from his first posthumous collection of incomplete longer poems. Over three movements and less than fifteen minutes, Parallel Movement of the Hands attempts to create a kind of musical version of Ashbery’s unique American vernacular surrealism, sharing his use of common phrases juxtaposed in unique and surprising ways, and might be performed as a dance piece. We begin with The History of Photography, dark and smeary, early daguerreotypes or ancient celluloid prints slowly decaying into abstraction. This is followed by The Art of Finger Dexterity, like its pedagogical inspiration a bright sequence of colorful repeated musical cells featuring the orchestra’s large section of pitched and plucked percussion including marimba, harp, celesta, piano, and mandolin. To conclude, 21 Variations on My Room provides an unusual take on variation form in which, like objects scattered around a room, a variety of constantly permuting polyphonic lines loop over and around a theme that is not so much a melody as a shape, the room represented by an ever-present ostinato.