Circus Accident

Circus Accident was composed in the Spring of 1993 while I was a composer-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco. It underwent substantive revisions a couple of months later in Minneapolis as I prepared it for this recording and it was included on the System Error CD.

The piece was originally written specifically for a band called Symon's New Blue Diamonds, a somewhat eccentric San Francisco based ensemble consisting of one trumpet, two tenor saxes, electric guitar, bass and drums. The ensemble specializes in high energy live performances of a kind of genre-bending music (Metallica meets Irving Berlin) which I found humorous, intellectually stimulating and highly musical. In addition, they do their performances in full clown costumes, including hair and make-up. The absurdity and aesthetic incongruenty evident in the (non)relationship between their music and how they look on stage adds dramatically to the overall whackiness of their performance. 

Circus Accident incorporates a similar kind of musical panstylicim. This piece tries in some sense, to ignore traditional compositional conventions. In the case of this piece, the primary nontraditional compositional aspects other than the simultaneous juxtaposition of musical styles, have to do specifically with the harmonizations in the horns and with the phrasing. In the past when I would write horn harmonizations, I would tend to write much more in an established style; but in this case, I just wrote what I heard in my head. The resulting stylistic inconsistency doesn't bother me one bit. I like it. Likewise in the case of the phrasing, I tried to simply write what sounded good to me. This resulted in unusual phrase lengths. 

In this studio version of the piece, I have included some keyboards and additional percussion.


Dave Marden
Tom Kehoe
Steve Kenny
Jeff Christiansen
Mike Olson

Tenor Sax
Tenor Sax
Electric Guitar
Synthesizers and Samplers