PANIC is rather unique in my collection of works in that its construction is quite different from the tonal model
I usually follow. In fact, it is a total departure from traditional tonal practice. However, unlike modern atonal
music produced according to the rules generally followed by those in academia, I take my own approach to
creating music that has no tonal center.
I must admit that 12-tone music tends to bore me. I generally do not take kindly to music created by tightly
regulated formulae, as this music usually is. To my ear, music composed in adherence to the rules established
by Schoenberg, Berg, and the other founders of this new musical language, tends to run together and sound the
same from piece to piece and composer to composer. This, I believe, is because many composers insist on
following stringent rules like avoidance of recognizable figures and patterns, totally asymmetrical rhythm, and
use of the tone-row. How can any piece ever sound unique when composers follow the same formula for construction?
In PANIC, composed for piano trio (piano, violin, and cello), I depart from not only traditional but also modern
practice. If you take a look at the image below, you immediately see that I use no key signature and that
the first note of the piece is C natural. It first appears to be obvious that this is simply music in the key of C.
However, that is not the case; not by a long shot! In fact, there is no key whatsoever. Notice the cello’s entry
on C sharp. In diatonic tradition, fugal music like this almost always follows the same pattern: first, entry in
root key; second, in key of dominant to root; and third, once again in root. So, if this were a traditional tonal
work, we would hear entries in C major/minor to G major/minor to C major/minor. Regarding modern
practice, I dispense with the idea of the tone row entirely. I see it as an almost absurd constraint on the
creative process and, even though I understand it is meant to guarantee “democratic” use of all twelve
tones, I find it stifling and almost useless for my purposes. Also, against the strictest and most
vociferous dictates of serial orthodoxy, I do, indeed, establish recognizable figures and patterns in this
music. My purpose is not to impress the listener with technicalities while I bore and befuddle him to tears.
My quest here, as in all art I create, is to move the audience, no matter what tonal language I use.
I request an honest assessment of what you hear. If this music does not please, tell me so and tell me why.
Since I feel this may be my own “voice” in music, it is very important that I know what others think.