WHY LIE? – 100+ flexible little pieces

Back in 2010 I put down a bunch of modular little musical ideas.  100 seemed like a nice number, so I made 100.  I made a few more in 2012 because these little music modules were a lot of fun to work with.  They’re flexible little scores.  Maybe you’ll find them interesting or useful.  Click on each number to see an enlarged version of the score.  The idea is that they can be read in any way, but I’ve laid out a few suggestions of good places to start based on the experiences of rehearsing these pieces in 2011 with seven stellar co-pilots (Zara Acosta, Michael Hurder, Chris Kedzie, Ian Munro, Ellen O’Meara, Paul Pinto, & Aliza Simons). For more thoughts on what all of this is/might be, please see below.


Alternate Title
Works well as a…
Other notes
#1 quartet
#2 FOOTBALL CLUB sung in nonsensical Indonesian
#3 GADOGADOI solo, quartet
#4 jugag sekali quartet
#5 “ATLANTA” canon, rubato solo
#6 ensemble piece with free entrances, can be looped
#7 ensemble loop piece interesting to have inexact doubling of parts
#8 chorale works nicely with staggered entrances & exits
#9 juice jambuh canon, quartet, solo line
#10 “Ya Mas” quartet with cuing having theatrical overtones
#11 ideally a crisply played quartet, but could make an intersting rubato solo as well
#12 ensemble piece for glissing instruments could be looped; performed by Joe White on 5/27/12 or by thingNY on 2/21/13
#13 solo, quartet, canon
#14 quartet say friend, do you like close harmonies?
#15 canon, quartet, spatial score
#16 -Pak Halfnardo- / the head of the pin solo, quartet with staggered entrances & exits
#17 I Don’t Believe in a Bad Night (Hati-Hati) canon, chorale
#18 RECOGNIZING MAMMALS (a la designing women) quartet
#19 solo, canon, quartet (staggered or cued), spatial score
#20 for J. Belushi? quartet, canon, solo
#21 This Guy “Asher” canon, chorale
#22 CARE for SOMETHING SWEET? quartet might sound best looped
#23 quartet
#24 call & response vocals there are three more verses…
#25 canon, quartet works well when played with a rotating soloist simultaneoulsy with #26 played the same way
#26 canon, quartet see above
#27 ucky Seafood canon, quartet
#28 quartet, solo
#29 vocal solo or group piece could be part of a larger song; performed in a medley by Michael Hurder in March 2012
#30 solo, staggered quartet, canon has many subtitles but no title
#31 canon, solo for monophonic instruments, can be read as having six lines
#32 canon, chorale
#33 THE FOUR PRINCES REGENT solo, chorale works both literaly and as a meta-piece
#34 vocal solo or duet
#35 quartet
#36 chorale
#37 WORKING TOWARDS NO NOSE quartet, canon
#38 quartet
#39 WHOEVER HE IS free-entrance loop piece, quartet works as loop piece with either immediate successive entrances or lots of space
#40 spatial suggestion, octet, solo a fine meta-piece or map
#41 canon, quartet
#42 “Shecky’s Big Ol’ Dick” aka Unlce Shecky quartet (with all moving through all four lines together) video of this piece performed by Sweat Lodge, 12/17/2011
#43 gli ITALIANI staggered quartet
#44 solo, staggered or cued ensemble piece similar to several pieces I wrote for Eidolon in 2009, particularly readable from various starting places
#45 solo, staggered or cued ensemble piece same as #44
#46 east baimbridge strut quartet is there even such a place?
#47 (maybe) on BS song for one or many players works best if anyone on lines 1, 3, & 4 establish a tonic, line 2 can/will clash
#48 e questo/questo e? solo, canon, quartet
#49 ONE PLEBICITE quartet
#50 REASSURANCE staggered quartet, solo
#51 SMELLS NICE solo, chorale
#52 Papal View solo, staggered quartet or duet
#53 Nunziatina Tithers duet or quartet
#54 Everything I Know About Spectral Music I Learned in 1 Steve Lehman Concert solo, quartet works well as a meta-piece, taking a long time while other pieces are happening in shorter time frames
#55 A Couple of Revanchistes, Maybe With Some Rye quartet
#56 septet, octet, or quartet either to be looped or a real quick tag of a piece, one of few with a specific tempo marking
#57 MYSELF WHEN I AM MOST OTHER really two duets that can overlap, could have more than one player per part the two duets can also be played independently
#58 looping piece for at least two players ending determined by open cue
#59 solo, canon, chorale chorale may be spread over four staves or within each measure
#60 vocal solo could be part of a larger song
#61 vocal quartet exactly pitches are not so important. there are three more verses
#62 BEARS, BEARS, DAMNED BEARS quartet, canon, or two duets (or one duet & two solos) great with people coming in & out (ie not starting together), just kind of a relaxed environment in which any of these lines can be played, often with 1&2 together
#63 AN OPEN-ENDED FORM SUGGESTING REPETITION & VARIATION song with looped spoken sections performed by Why Lie? the band as “Sinfonetta”
#64 *TO THINK ABOUT AN ASTERISK solo, quartet, spatial suggestion makes a nice meta-piece… color is significant in line 4
#65 BERMAIN’ solo, quartet, canon to speak words or to not speak?
#66 WHENEVER HE’S WITH ME quartet (plus auxiliary players) video of this piece performed by Sweat Lodge, 12/17/2011. works best with simultaneous performance of “Heatwave” & “I Love How You Love Me”
#67 quartet, canon
#68 quartet, canon, duo theatrical/movement implications
#69 PROBABLY SILENTLY: A TABLEAU solo, quartet perhaps more a meditation than a piece, not unlike those Tom Johnson piano pieces not meant to be performed
#70 quartet, canon theatrical/movement implications
#71 chorale, solo internal looping possibilities
#72 “YOUR SISTER LOOKS KIND of FRUM” spatial exercise, installation think about where the pitches live…
#73 FIXED DRUG ERUPTION staggered quartet, solo
#74 quartet, solo, canon
#75 staggered quartet, solo
#76 quartet, drone piece explicitly a longer one
#77 ALL THIS HOPPING… staggered quartet or trio
#78 solo, quartet
#79 FRAUDULENCE tune with comping patterns works well with open section after theme, may have any number of comping players (lines 3 & 4)
#80 “A PERSONAL TOUCH” quartet, solo
#81 HERR KUNSTLAGER solo, ensemble piece, spatial suggestion
#82 your sister looks kind of fun. quartet or two duets theatrical/movement implications
#83 exercise for soloist or ensemble based on Raage Miyan Malhar
#84 chorale, canon based on “You’ve Got To Hold Me Tighter, Yeah” by R. Ashley
#85 LIKE LUTEFISK FROM A NUDIBRANCH solo, quartet, canon video of this piece, realized & performed by Cory Bracken, 12/17/2011
#86 northern sambal quartet, solo if solo, could use numbers on various parameters/pitches simultaneously
#87 looping piece for ensemble progress goes in many directions,performed by thingNY on 2/21/13
#88 solo, quartet theatrical/movement implications
#89 two duets players use musical cryptogram to respond to prompts
#90 chorale, canon
#91 FORK PATE tune for one or more players based on Fake Patois, but irregular & limp
#92 looping piece for ensemble
#93 quartet, solo, duet
#94 YOU KNOW, MY MOTHER WAS A LOLCATS staggered quartet, solo, duet
#95 IN THE DUGOUT WITH THE2005 NL CHAMPION HOUSTON ASTROS small snatches of melody for general usage
#96 YOU HEAR IT, YOU PLAY IT works well as a meta-piece or general philosophy OR as a concert piece I suppose
#97 -TEACHERS I HAVE-HAD NAMED PETEY- quartet don’t ignore the letters in lines 2 & 3
#98 canon, chorale
#99 COURRIER’S WALTZ staggered quartet w/ loops
#100 The Creeping Hinge, aka the Joys of Judaism staggered quartet

The initial series of WHY LIE? pieces was capped at 100, but since completing the first batch, I’ve written a few more in late 2011 and early 2012. Here they are:

#101 Smoke Rememberances of Your Grandparents Every Day solo, quartet
#102 FREI ist GUT solo, quartet
#103 solo, quartet close cousin of #64
#104 solo, quartet
#105 Perhaps I Miscalculated solo, canon, duet, quartet realized by Amirtha Kidambi & Dave Ruder on 2/19/2012
#106 solo, spatialized piece, task

History of presenting WHY LIE? in public:

performance 5/22/11, in and around Prospect Park

performance 6/11 as part of FIGMENT NYC on Governor’s Island

performance 6/21 as part of Make Music NY

presentation as part of Panoply Lab’s Conference of Works at Grace Space, 12/12/11

performance 5/25/13 with thingNY, some pieces rehearsed, some ad hoc, as well as many guest musicians and dancers at fidget space, Philadelphia, PA

…in addition to numerous other performances of single pieces by Sweat Lodge, thingNY, and Why Lie? (the band)

Some background from 2011, when these piece were first collected:
I don’t really hear new sounds in my head. I used to think that there was something wrong with me. I thought notation was part of the problem – the system I inherited wasn’t well suited to what I wanted to say with sound, and so I couldn’t properly bring the ideas from my brain to the outside world. Turns out I’ve been overlooking the ideas that have been coming out all along – I’ve stopped blaming my tools and decided to make the most of them. This project comes from a desire to see notation, and more generally the communication between composer and performer, as a broader vehicle for generating musical interactions than I had previously allowed myself to see. As such, it basks in multivalence, which leads to overflowing solutions, inconsistency, and murkiness (all positives here). Notation is used not as a concise way to move the ideas in my head to the physical gestures of performers, but as a generative medium in and of itself – the place where happy accidents turn into art. Clarity is never an end goal – the ability to show formal ideas through vastly divergent approaches, and in the process derive the most stimulating sounds and the most responsive group possible, are the goals.

When I have written notes in this piece, they are not tied to specific timbres, pitch classes, or harmonies per se. They are merely relative place markers within the language of whoever is playing the piece at that moment. Certainly there are solutions I would tend towards, but here I am making a case for openness and flexibility. I am in no way abdicating responsibility or asking the performer to do everything herself. I am positing that the pieces enclosed are sturdy enough that they can be stimulating, that they can be useful, in a huge variety of contexts – not that they will always be interesting, but that it’s worth reinvestigating them until an interesting solution is reached.

Some thoughts on how to approach this material:
Each of these pieces was written to function independently. Each has its own internal logic and can stand up to a variety of different interpretations. Alongside these internal logics is the imbrication of each piece into the larger framework of all the other pieces; concepts introduced in earlier pieces play out in later pieces (the numbering represents chronological order of creation to make this clearer). In other words, this is a series of 100 individual pieces, but each piece becomes much more interesting when played in the context of the other 99 pieces. The ebb and flow of concepts, forms, groupings, harmonic and melodic languages, etc. become apparent over the course of the 100 pieces. For example, there are several loop-form pieces in the set (#7, #58, #92). Each one functions differently. I could have standardized the loop piece form between them, but for the sake of the larger project, I left each piece with a different operational framework, because each loop’s function points towards other non-looping pieces (e.g. #7 more resembles the quartet form common throughout wherein each staff corresponds to a single player while #92 requries physical relocation in the space, linking it to another family of pieces). These pieces can be interpreted by any instrument, reading any clef and/or any transposition (notated with the diamond clef, a concept I am lovingly borrowing). However, there exist pieces that specify that players should be sounding the same tone or that all material is in concert pitch. Pieces can be interpreted by any number or group of instruments, although some pieces lend themselves to certain specific groupings more than others.

Performances of this material will not likely consist of each piece being played discretely from beginning to end and then the next piece; it is no coincidence that there are eight players in the group working on this material. Since each piece has fours staves, four is in many ways the ideal number of players to play these pieces, and eight allows for two simultaneous quartets. At the same time, four simultaneous duos is certainly a possibility, or even eight solos. A continuous flow of activity is prioritized over the clarity of hearing any given piece. Some pieces are great transitional pieces, for example #57 nicely splits a quartet into two duos, and the two duos may then move forward as such. #57 can also bring together two distinct duos as a unified quartet. I’ve often argued that at some point all songs start blending into one collective ur-song, and part of the experience of composing, reading, or performing these pieces is realizing a similar trend: for all the individual logic and unique perspective each piece provides, the combination of all these pieces suggests a larger framework of interactions, and that is the bottom line of WHY LIE?