PASTICHE   CANONS
                           on
       CHIMERICAL  COMPOSERS

1.   Prelude (Homage to Tzhing)
2.   Canon by augmentation (Gigue)
3.   Canon by inversion
4.   Twelve-tone canon
5.    Swing canon
6.   Canon at the tritone (Basque dance)
7.   Canon by augmentation and inversion
8.   Canon by augmentation, then by inversion
9.   Canon in two, then three parts
10. Mystical canon at the tritone
11. Canon by double augmentation and inversion
12. Passacaglia
13. Canon by augmentation and inversion
14. Toy canon

In the last decade of his life, Johann Sebastian Bach curtailed somewhat the scope
of his public activities, and focused his energy on the production of recondite
contrapuntal works such as
The Art of the Fugue.  Disdaining  the fashion of the
day, the much maligned Kapellmeister seems to have sought to carve a niche for
himself in history.

In so doing he was following a path laid out by his esteemed predecessor, Dietrich
Buxtehude (he of the unmarriable daughter) for whom (as for many in those days,
such as Johann Jacob Froberger, Johann Pachelbel, even Girolamo Frescobaldi)
mastery of the theoretical challenges incumbent on strict canonic polyphony seems
to have provided as deep a satisfaction as the composition and performance of his
celebrated "crowd-pleasers".

In keeping, ever so humbly, with this tradition, over the last ten years or so I have
retired from the vain pursuit of self-promotion, retreating to the labyrinth of this
website, while here, in the exercises that follow, I reaffirm my debt to history - both
that history of which music lovers commonly are aware (of Bach and Buxtehude,
Froberger and Frescobaldi), and that esoteric tradition known only to aficionados of
the
Oftedingen Phenomenon.

So look and listen closely: the canons that follow are parodies of nonexistent
composers - the Cornelius Funfhoellers, the Ichigo Scraccis, the Pelog
Slenderosos, etc. from Ofterdingen's world, with their names appended, in the
manner that Debussy provides descriptive titles for his
Preludes, at the end of each
piece.

And so this collection, as a whole, lacks stylistic unity, (beyond the ubiquitous use of
imitation) though it is my fervent hope that each individual piece affords, by its inner
consistency, a glimpse at an imaginary world with its own logical laws.  (After all, a
canon without harmonic constraints is something any fool could accomplish.)

Now you may see in all of this the most elaborate whimsy, but in truth I feel bound
by the precepts of Post-Modernism, according to which history is over (so that we
can no longer build on the past but only scavenge) and the creative self is a fictive
construction (so that, no longer believing in anything, I can pretend to be anyone I
wish).

But you're not convinced.  Why noodle around, you wish to ask, in history's
postlude?  Why not take some bold step in a new direction?  Why not pioneer a
meta-music, bewitching to those bright beings we'd become?  

Well, I've tried.  Just look at the
Splendid Ruins on this website.  In an attempt to
restore "the ancient harmony of sound and significance" I invented a
Language of
Wonder and Delight -
and in its ritualized expression I put my audience right to
sleep.  I elaborated a "modern mythology" of the unicorn, symbol of imagination, and
played the piano with a horn on my head, but at receptions I kept accidentally  
poking my fans in the eyes.  I tried to reconcile the primitive energy of rock music
with the subtleties of eastern spirituality and microtonal harmonies - and at the
climactic moment of a live performance was interrupted by the persistent knocking
of the Chinese food delivery guy, arrived prematurely with his egg rolls for the
reception, who only and obstinately wanted to know would I pay with cash or
credit?  I disappeared into an electronic studio for ten years and emerged with a
bevy of glistening timbral gems never before imagined, all derived from the
numerical ratios of the harmonic series, - but at the premier, in a huge, hollow
swimming pool in Brooklyn, I was undone by the racket of construction work so that
you couldn't tell where the music began and the drilling ended.  

Still, I blame myself more than others: everything was made with haste, badly
played and poorly recorded.  (You can still hear, at the endings, the smatterings of
applause, wistful reminders of that gap - tragic? comic? in any case immense -
between the thought and the deed.)

That gap I now see as unbridgeable:  I've come to expect less of art (and of myself)
while caring about it more (and trying to mind my manners).  So maybe now you can
see how it is that I've come round to the austere pleasures of counterpoint, and to
the modest hope that music, as old Bach himself put it, can provide a delectation for
the spirit.

A word on the performance of these works:  Bach's  
Art of the Fugue is often cited
as the supreme example of musical abstraction: it's about ideal polyphonic
relationships, so no instrumentation is indicated (though it sounds great on
keyboard, strings, you name it!).  Well, the same is true of these
Pastiche Canons.  
They're playable on piano, organ, harpsichord, even as a duet between marimba
and celeste,  and each instrument will find in this music its own meaning.   My
personal choice is the "Fantasy Variation" setting on my little old electric piano: I
love the way that
puff of angel-breath gilds each ping in all registers, and I like to
imagine that the Frescobaldis and the Frobergers of times gone by would have
delighted at this marriage of intellectual rigor and saccharine sound.  

Did somebody say
marriage?  I hereby dedicate this work to the memory of Dietrich
Buxtehude's eldest daughter, Anna Margareta, the unfortunate woman no one
wished to wed.  What charms or skills she was felt to lack, in that harsh world, we
can never know, but her plight reminds us that, even as we pay homage to tradition
through these little pieces, we never need idealize the past - far better to ask what
wrongs we presently perpetrate, acceptable in our time, but destined for censure in
years to come.