SOLO INSTRUMENT - Funk Studies (2004) - Program Notes
The Five Funk Studies are a set of solo piano etudes based on the '#9' chord (0, 6, 11), which Thelonious Monk redefined continually through tritone shifts in the bass.
The first three studies, 'Jaunt', 'Lullaby' and 'Step' are based on small rhythmic and melodic cells which undergo a miniature development during each movement. Eighth notes in the first and third movements are swung; the second movement has a relatively strict eighth note pulse, but with a freer, bluesy rubato feeling on the grace notes.
'Dodecaphunk', dedicated to Andrew Mead, is a twelve-tone fugue with swung eighths. The opening subject defines the tow and its inversion, and each successive entry follows the row.
"Kontraphunktus' was originally commissioned by the Gilmore Festival for Gilbert Kalish, as part of the project 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Goldberg'. While eighths are played straight in this movement, it explores techniques of stressing and deemphasizing ( or 'ghosting' ) particular notes in a melodic passage. Its point of departure is the fourth measure of Bach's theme, which is transformed, metrically expanded and treated minimally in a drive toward its final iteration as a grand and funky baroque mordent.