In this song I combined two Lorca poems that tackle racial discrimination in NY in the 1920’s. Lorca wrote with deep empathy about the African-American community, and in his letters to his family he describes discrimination at the time. As a white middle-aged European, I don’t have the cultural perspective to really discuss racial issues in the US, however what I can say is that I see that discrimination still persists. Just think about Trayvon Martin.
Musically, I wanted to be able to mix both my genealogical and musical heritages. The song starts out with a Jelly-Roll Morton “Spanish Tinge” feel with Monk-esque piano clusters on top, and a Weill-esque melody (I actually listened to the 3-penny opera a few times for inspiration). Continuing with the quotes, I *had* to include Ellington, and used the song “The Mooche” and the symphonic piece “Harlem” as well. Finally a frantic 3/ 4 section was inspired by Charles Mingus, and a fast latin one by Horace Silver’s “Nutville”(an appropriate nickname for NYC.) See videos for some of these songs below.
I see composition as an outlet to emotional ideas. This was an emotional piece to write, and using all these source materials to build a collage in my own musical terms was a great experience.
Duke Ellington: “The Mooche”
Duke Ellington: “Harlem”
Horace Silver Quintet: “Nutville”