© 1997 by Daniel Waitzman. (Slightly revised electronic version.)

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(Note: The following program notes were written for another project; but since they set forth my ideas on composing with reasonable accuracy, I have left them "as is," for the nonce.)

Let me try to articulate the principles which guide my attempts at musical composition. Firstly, I embrace functional harmony, tonality, and the consonance-dissonance gradient of pre-Wagnerian Western music, along with the affective, demonstrative, and analytical ethos that guided Western musical thought for over a thousand years, up until its gradual vitiation and abandonment over a century ago. Secondly, I regard Western music as a mature art. By this I mean that many of the technological aspects of musical expression no longer remain to be discovered: thus we define musical endeavor primarily as an inner spiritual process, rather than as an external quest for new technology, comparable to that which prevails in the pursuit of scientific and technological disciplines. For example, Dunstable established triadic harmony as an essential musical technology centuries ago; yet such harmonic language has lost none of its power or immediacy. It is intellectually seductive to say that we can and must discover totally new modes of musical expression peculiar to our time (as most of our establishment composers have long proclaimed); but the ineluctable fact remains, for me, that most intellectually-persuasive ways of organizing—or disorganizing—notes, outside of the harmonic system, fail to persuade musically. To accept them entails the abandonment of a spiritual intent and a musical morality which define the human condition at its highest—or so I believe. Neither the human psyche nor the overtone series is subject to fashion or to ideological manipulation, nor is the human condition subject to change by ideological decree. I feel challenged to come to terms with this set of circumstances not by rejecting triadic harmony, but by internalizing it, personalizing it, and attempting, in some small way, to point the way towards the development of new mixed styles, that is to say, styles predicated in part upon a creative synthesis of elements of previous styles. We speak and write in a language that has changed surprisingly little for centuries; yet we express ourselves in a way that is perfectly appropriate to our own time by so doing. So it can be in music also. I, for one, particularly reject Wagnerian inflation of harmony and of means and the whole set of post-Wagnerian aesthetics which it engendered as alien to true musical expression. More than that, I reject the materialistic, secular intent which the Enlightenment foisted upon musical culture; I strive neither to entertain nor to disgust nor to increase productivity. Instead, I espouse anew the older view of music as a communication with God. It matters little to me whether this God exists as a benevolent Supreme Being, or whether it exists as an immanent reification of the highest aspirations of mankind; the practical implications for musical expression are the same; the old masters were right, regardless of the truth or falsehood of their cosmological beliefs. I see a failure among so many post-Enlightenment musicians to come to terms with the subjective, inner, non-scientific spiritual nature of music; and I attempt to address this failure as best I can. I do not find that the modern negative view of the human condition—which I personally accept—demands the self-debasement of the soul; rather I see the ancient Western musical ethos as a very modern proclamation of both defiance and acceptance, and as a quintessentially contemporary statement of the human presence in the face of the inhuman emptiness of the post-quantum universe. I do not offer the computerized realizations on this disk as acceptable substitutes for live performances, but rather as a means of sharing my musical thoughts without having to go through the endless extra-musical hurdles that afflict exponents of so-called "serious" music-making in the modern world. I composed the music at the computer, engraved it at the computer, "burned" the CDs and wrote the program notes—all at the computer. I am responsible only to my own conscience and to God. The electronic files offered here represent the equivalent of my working manuscripts. I hope, of course, that those who listen to this recording may derive a meaningful musical experience therefrom, and I have worked hard to try to facilitate this. That I could have done much more in terms of articulation and dynamic and agogic inflection I do not deny; but my primary interests lie outside of the field of electronic music (for whose practitioners I have only the greatest respect, particularly as they included my revered teacher, the late Otto Luening). The two Trios on this recording are scored for flute, oboe d’Amore or violin, and basso continuo. Since the flute sound on my sound module is abominable, I have chosen to realize the flute parts on an oboe-like instrument. Likewise, I have the harpsichord playing tasto solo or unisoni throughout. Basso continuo realization is an art form and a process unto itself; and I feel no urge to pre-empt the harpsichordist’s prerogatives in this matter. I generally figure my bass lines when I am not too lazy; but given my departures from the old masters’ use of dissonance—particularly as regards cross-relations (in which respect I attempt to enrich galant practices with an infusion of seventeenth-century and even much earlier procedures), it is sometimes hard for me to know exactly how far to go in figuring a bass without impinging upon sensitive dissonance resolutions in the upper parts. Even the old masters occasionally erred in this respect, by their own admission. In short, these electronic "performances" should not be taken as a proper guide to my performance practices now or in the future. As to why I revive the basso continuo at the dawn of the third Millenium, I note that our time has witnessed vast political, social, and artistic upheavals. The harpsichord and other once obsolete instruments sing again; the Russians abandon the Soviet system; and architects rediscover the need for tasteful detailing. Perhaps it is time for a similar counter-revolution in Music. Seriously though, the basso continuo, for me, represents the embodiment of values that I believe have been sorely missed in Western music for generations: namely, the explicit re-espousal of functional harmony and musically-rational dissonance treatment, and the rediscovery of the importance of a rhythmically-powerful bass line (which is something that jazz musicians have always appreciated). Both of these together, constitute, for me at least, the literal and figurative foundation of musical language (and I hope that the musical reader will take note of the miserable pun).



(realized electronically by the composer).

(with pauses)


Sonata in C Major (1995; original version in D Major, 1994): I. Un poco Vivace.



II. Air with Variations: Aria; Var. 1; Var.2 (Canon at the unison); Var. 3 (Third Avenue El); Aria da capo.



Gematrial Sonata in F Major (1993): I. Allegretto.[1]



II. Adagio: Gematrial canon on the name of BACH (canon at the unison).[2]



III. Fantasy on the Chorale, “Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid” (canon in inversion).[3]



IV. High Five: Presto.[4]



Sonata in C Minor (1993). I. Allegro.



II. Adagio.



III. Allegretto.



Chorale Prelude on “Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid” (1970).[5]


Total time: 67:36, with pauses.


Copyright © 1970, 1993-2007 by Daniel Robert Waitzman. All rights reserved.


Published by:

Daniel Waitzman
5 Amherst Road
Hicksville, New York  11801
(516) 933-3383

E-Mail: danwaitz@sprynet.com

Web Site: http://home.sprynet.com/~danwaitz/


[1] “The sum of my measures is equal to that of the names of MENDELSSOHN and FUX, although my substance is infinitely less.”

[2] Each of the two sections of this movement comprises fourteen measures—the sum of the Gematrial spelling of the name, BACH.

[3] “My measures number one more than the difference between the name and years of SCHUBERT, which number equals the earthly years of SEBASTIAN BACH.”

[4] “My measures number the sum of the names of MÜTHEL and BACH.”

[5] Written as a class assignment for the late Charles M. Walton’s graduate school course in advanced harmony. I have made a few minor revisions, the most recent in 2007.


 (Click here to return to Daniel Waitzman's main Web page.) (Click here to read an essay by Daniel Waitzman, entitled, "Up from Authenticity, or How I Learned to Love the Metal Flute—A Personal Memoir.")