“A voice that leaps out and grabs you” and “loopy and charming” are how the Glasgow Herald and the Boston Globe describe the music of composer A.J. McCaffrey. McCaffrey studied composition at The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and then with James MacMillan at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Scotland.
Notes from the Composer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Stop is the new Go
Performed by the Avion Saxopohone Quartet.
Stop is the new Go was written for the Avion Saxophone Quartet in the summer of 2007. I was interested in trying to translate some ideas from film and cinema into music. I was thinking of a narrative in which, for some reason, the story kept getting turned off suddenly, and the viewer or listener then had to piece together what was happening from the fragments they did hear or see. The title refers to the idea that even in the absence of typical or traditional development, a kind of momentum can still be felt throughout the work.
A Long Hard Look at a Good Swift Kick
Performed by the USC Thornton Symphony, conducted by Donald Crockett.
Ever since I had a series of weird dreams a few years ago after participating in a particularly intense string quartet marathon at a summer festival, I’ve been playing around with an idea for a piece, which goes something like this:
You’re in a car, and all of the presets on your car radio are tuned to stations that are playing different versions of the same piece of music; and for whatever reason, the radio is constantly jumping back and forth between the stations. I thought that if you ever were held hostage by your car radio in that way, you wouldn’t so much be listening to a composition as floating around the edge of it, looking at it from different angles, and maybe lingering on – or even obsessing over and taking apart – those spots that caught your attention or moved you.
I began working on A Long Hard Look at a Good Swift Kick to explore some of these ideas about musical perspective. Two factors of note: to convey the mechanical dissonance of the radios, the orchestra is split into three smaller groups that are slightly out of tune with each other; and to work with some radio-friendly material that could be taken apart obsessively, I chose some familiar music by a composer who obsessively took things apart.