Blue States (2008) was composed
during the fall and winter of 2008. The title alludes not only to
states that voted for the Democratic nominee in the 2008 election, but
also to various jazz elements and moods of sadness, largely abated by
the results of the election.
The opening introductory section settles
on jazz chords at the end of its long phrases. In the next fugal
section a jazz tune is presented in several timbres and speeds, as if a
group of players were standing around waiting for their turn to get in
a lick. A strong bass line proves counterpoint here and elsewhere
throughout the piece.
Two introspective sections follow – the first
with sustained white-noise chords punctuated by bell-like attacks, the
second with vibraphone-like chords. A further set of variations moves
from an almost catatonic state to a full emotional outburst, perhaps
occasioned by the election results. Another faster jazzy section leads
to a recapitulation that expands and alters the original three sections.
the sounds in Blue States are produced by computer algorithms. Nothing
has been prerecorded or sampled. Most sections present
quasi-transpositions of the same materials at different speeds,
catching up and passing one another so that a following voice becomes a
leader halfway through its phrase.