Poetry of the Piedmont

(Poesis Piementosa) for Orchestra

Stephen Jaffe

Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The Piedmont is home to various Appalachian cultures, from the Adirondacks to Georgia. The songs of two birds: Black Capped and Carolina Chickadees, are a sonic link to this region of gentle hills rising from the eastern coastal plain of the U.S. The call of the Black Capped (two notes, falling) links to the main musical theme: four notes descending in a pentatonic scale. With the chickadees, small black and white birds (one northern and one southern, whose name is Native American but whose presence on the land preceded the Cherokee), we hear a new, hybrid, music, poesis piementosa, Poetry of the Piedmont. Embedded within are imprints of mountain and African American culture, of migrant agricultural workers, industrial sounds; the hymns and anthems of people struggling to overcome hardship and attain equanimity (just after half way into the piece, fragments of two anthems appear: The Old North State --North Carolina's State Song ? and the more widely known Amazing Grace). The music taps into some of the same wellsprings of Appalachian culture that have been tapped into by other traditions; yet it also takes note of the mysterious power of birds, who sing freely, in and out of traditionally quantifiable rhythm.

The orchestra calls for winds and brass in threes, and may be supplemented with offstage instruments. Incidentally, the bird sounds are fragments of actual songs recorded in the wild, and reproduced by a percussionist playing a laptop sampler. The percussionist?s instrument was made using Max msp, for which a design was created by John Mayrose. It can be played on a laptop keyboard (?qwerty? or ?piano?) or percussion drum pad.

Available on Rental

Additional Information

Commission North Carolina Symphony as part of its ?Postcards from North Carolina? project honoring the 75th anniversary of the orchestra?s founding in 1932
Composition Date 2006
Duration 00:06:00
Orchestration 3(dbl. Picc.) 3 3 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno.(dbl.Cel.) Hp. Str.; opt. Brass Quintet (2Hn. 3Tpt.)
Premiere January, 2007. North Carolina Symphony, conducted by Grant Llewellyn Meymandi; Hall, Raleigh, NC

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