Spectral Caravan

Blair McMillen and Jonathan Faiman, pno

Commissioned by New York City’s Locrian Chamber Players. Premiered by Jonathan Faiman and Blair McMillen in NYC on August 15, 2002.PROGRAM NOTE

Spectral Caravan¬†was inspired by an annual 3-day radio show in New York City dedicated to South Asian music, and my own experience playing and listening to Indian and North African music as a drummer, as well as my own experience playing some of the standard 4-hands piano repertoire, namely Schubert and reductions of Beethoven Symphonies and String Quartets. The “game” of my 4-hands piano work is to combine the repetition of a typical lengthy raga with the overload of musical information inherent in American culture, hopefully to unsettling effect. The “spectral” of the title uses both of its meanings: “ghostly” and “relating to a spectrum,” for the work is both haunted by many Western musical styles from my unconscious and multi-colored as a result. The “caravan” of the title is evocative of the train-like form of the piece — blocks of styles connected by little more than the raga theme itself. At times, the “Western” aspect pulls just hard enough to slightly dislodge the ongoing perfection of the raga, or “drumming,” theme; yet it always rights itself. At the end, the ghosts of Western musical styles past drift away into the dust while the primacy of the raga remains, though splintered as if intending to re-gather into a new theme for some future song or dance.


One piano, four hands