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Whitwell, Craig: Three Unrelated Short Pieces

Whitwell, Craig: Three Unrelated Short Pieces

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This short piece has been described as “very acrobatic and full of character”. It is based upon two interleaved isorhythmic structures, providing the piece with an underpinning of internal cogs working together like a “machine”. Computer assistance was used to spin out the interleaving of the two isorhythmic structures – but then there’s making music out of it. Actually, this is the last piece I was working on, before being thoroughly overtaken by my software engineering career. However, I found a lot of similarity between writing music and writing computer programs.

Fierce Tears (Two Brief Moments)

I borrowed a couple words from Dylan Thomas (from his villanelle Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night) for the title of this piece. It seemed fitting. The two short movements herein were originally written as part of Sacher Variations, but found their way to becoming this separate piece, dealing with the sorrow and angst of loss. It may be played on tenor trombone, or bass trombone might be rather nice here.


I felt like writing a quick, fun piece. In the process, I recalled an interview with street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, wherein he was asked about his compositional technique. He replied with panache and the gesture of a quick shutter-click to the left, “Vite!” (French, pronounced veet, means “quick”). There is a bit of double-tonguing at the edges and offset-accents vs staccatos amid fun-flowing rhythmic detail in the middle.


Craig Whitwell, born 1948, Santa Rosa, California. Began playing professionally in high school. BA, San Jose State University, studying trombone with Bob Szabo. MA, University
of Pennsylvania, studying composition with George Crumb and Richard Wernick. Developed a long career in software engineering and didn’t compose during that time. Recently retired and began writing music again, picking up where he left off, for unaccompanied trombone.

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