White Lights Lead To Red
About this work:
White Lights Lead to Red (1996)
This piece was composed for the California E.A.R. Unit's 1997 England tour and was meant from the outset to be an "opener". I have written a lot of music for this group over the years, but this is the first piece in which I have everyone playing their primary "classical" instrument. I was interested in seeing if I could get some of the energy and feeling of vernacular musical idioms without recourse to instruments such as electric bass, harmonica, or saxophone. Another (for me) unusual feature of the piece is that, except for a few notes here and there, it is entirely modal. But the mode is such that it allows me to achieve the highly chromatic melodic and contrapuntal style that characterizes my less pitch-restricted music.
The form unfolds by starting with cluster-pounding, followed by a gradual establishment of the mode and introduction of melodic materials. After playing itself out through some soloistic variations, we return to pounding and fizzle out.
The title doesn't mean much. I borrowed it up from an airline safety routine; the white lights on the aisle floor lead to the red exit lights. It may in some intuitive way connect to the music, but I chose it mainly because most of my flying is done in the company of the musicians for whom the work was written.
Year composed: 1996
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 6-9 players
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Clarinet, 2 Percussion (General), 1 Piano, 1 Violin, 1 Cello
Instrumentation notes: The clarinet part is bass clarinet throughout. The 2 percussion parts are designed to be like a huge drum set; one player plays only drums, the other only cymbals of various kinds.