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Toub: darfur pogrommenJust when you thought we’ve been musically laying low… There’s a brand-new online-only CD release by fellow S21 regular and composer David Toub, realized by yours truly (Steve Layton, for those of you who don’t read the bottom post tag). It just became available on iTunes (US, also now or very soon in UK/Europe, Australia and Japan) on my little NiwoSound label; expect its appearance on eMusic as well very soon. The CD is in the “electronic” genre at both places, but purely as a matter of expediting the release; if it’s not classical I don’t know what is!

David’s darfur pogrommen, composed only a few months ago, is another expansive minimalist essay; its single continuous movement clocks in at 47 minutes. There’s no real attempt at programmatic writing; rather — like many of David’s other pieces — the title is a marker of a moment, that can call up whatever associations the listener might have in relation to it.

The piece is for open instrumentation. David’s own first recorded version used synthy string sounds, but I decided to give it a kind of “old school” treatment: a Reich-Glass hybrid with a vibraphone and electric organ taking the two primary parts, and electric piano and two more organs adding secondary voices. It trades a little lushness, but finds a bright, hard and uncompromising edge.

The biggest influence is still “classic” 60s-70s Glass, but David has his own way with how figures intuitively expand and contract, the harmonies involved, and his preference for alternating and pulsing notes. But later in the piece there’s a spot that to my ears definitely pays tribute to Morton Feldman as well. Surprising and beautiful!

Though there are many clearly defined sections in the piece, like so much of David’s work there’s just no way to get the whole flow with separate tracks. So if you want it, it’s all or nothing. (You can preview 30 seconds of the beginning on iTunes, but it’s a laughably hopeless indicator of what unfolds…)

Anyone wishing to burn the download to disc can also download and print this PDF file, which gives you the entire cover art and inner notes. More musically, you can freely download the PDF of the entire score from David himself.

Oh yeah: play it LOUD.


Comment from Tom Myron
Time: February 15, 2008, 9:23 pm

Is this more tasteless than shameless, or shameless than tasteless? I just can’t decide.

Comment from David Toub
Time: February 15, 2008, 9:37 pm

Hey Steve, I’m sitting here in San Francisco checking my usual blog feeds and this post absolutely made my day. Thanks very much for taking the time to do a wicked cool realization of DP, just as you did previously with my early 80’s piano work textbook.

Just so people realize what Steve did, he took a MIDI file I posted on my music site and on his own, did a really nice realization of my piece. There are one or two minor additions/changes near the end, which I am delighted with, since it indicates to me that Steve liked the music enough to put his own stamp on it. It’s different from the original (and slightly flawed, thanks to Finale’s erratic playback in the beginning) version I did for strings, and also different from the later version in Reason 4. The great thing about open instrumentation is that every performance will necessarily be different, and whomever arranges the piece will find something unique in it.

Comment from Steve Layton
Time: February 15, 2008, 9:40 pm

I suspect it’s actually Tom-less… but there’s definitely not a speck of shame to be had. It’s exactly what it is, no flinching.

Comment from Sparky P.
Time: February 15, 2008, 10:25 pm

David: What the hack are you doing here in San Francisco?
Tom: When the heck are we gonna get more toonz to name?

Comment from James Combs
Time: February 15, 2008, 10:41 pm

Congratulations! 54 minutes wow!


Comment from David Toub
Time: February 15, 2008, 11:50 pm

Thanks, James. Thought I’d write a shorter piece for a change. ;-)

Comment from Lisa
Time: February 18, 2008, 9:53 pm

This is a midi realization? Ive been away from the notated music scene for a while now but isn’t this a well justified taboo. Personally I find the strings realization on David’s web site intolerable. Piece might be great but that sound … Is it really an acceptable format for your music David? Am I alone on this?

Comment from Steve Layton
Time: February 18, 2008, 10:36 pm

David’s original version is the stringy thing. It gives an idea, but needed a real “touch” and “space” to do justice to the fine piece that this is.

To give everyone a chance to preview my “NiwoSound Ensemble” performance that’s on this CD, I’ve made a 4’30” excerpt from the center of the piece that you can freely listen to:

(We’re at the end of one of the vibraphone’s “arias”, heading into the second statement of a driving motoric section for full ensemble, rounded off by one of the “chorales” that punctuate the piece.)

Comment from David Toub
Time: February 18, 2008, 11:27 pm

Lisa, I make the best with the limited resources I have. The string version is what it is. The main issue for me is the fact that there are some skips In the very beginning, owing to Finale’s Garritan Personal Orchestra playback as well as my two-year-old iiBook’s CPU.

However, the version I did for winds, strings, mallet instruments, piano and synths in Reason 4.0 is better, and you’re certainly welcome to go to my music page and download it. Let me know what you thnk of it. Think of it as a different performance from Steve’s great interpretation. There are some differences between the two versions (steve’s and mine), but these are minor.

So what you’re saying, Lisa, is that you feel the music is crying out for a live performance, no? 8-)

Comment from David Toub
Time: February 19, 2008, 12:24 am

Since I always preferred the Reason version over the string version, I commented out the string link on my site, so hopefully folks will not get put off by the original version done via Finale. Also, the version in the XSPF player embedded on the site has always been the Reason version, so we’re good.

Still, Lisa, any of these versions should provide a really good sense of the piece. And I don’t consider the use of virtual instruments to be a ”taboo.“ For starters, why should a MIDI-based realization using high-quality samples be less valid than the electronics used in, say, an Ussachevsky or Babbitt piece that mimic a piano? And there’s also the reality that many of us new music types just don’t have performers knocking down our doors to play our music. Not because it sucks, but because that’s just the nature of the new music world. Always has been. I’d rather be able to have a lot of people hear my music, even if not performed by the Kronos Quartet or another ensemble, than not to hear it at all. And with the quality of most samples these days, the virtual performances are even better than before, although admittedly strings and voice are more difficult to realize electronically. A pianist I know actually mistook my synthesized audio file of an old 12-tone piano work of mine (ineffabilities) for the real deal. He even made some laudatory comments about the pianist, since the work is pretty hard to play.