We commissioned re:Write from Andrew M. Rodriguez and we loved it so much that we decided to record it and release it as a single right away!
re:Write has a chill electronic pop vibe. You can hear the Postal Service influences on the track.
"To fully comprehend why re:Write is what it is, one must first understand who A/B Duo are, because without A/B Duo there would be no re:Write. When I first heard recordings of this flute and percussion duo, I didn’t think of it is “chamber music”. I heard them as an indie band, a rock band, a punk band--a couple of musicians doing things their own way, outside of the norm. This perception helped to shape my approach of writing (and rewriting) this piece." - Andrew M. Rodriguez
It's been a few months since our last blog post. What have we been doing? A lot. Just not as a duo. We scheduled a little break for a few reasons:
1. We scheduled a little break from performing so that Chris could focus on studying for his DMA written exams. And he must have put the break to good use because he passed! One huge step towards Dr. Jones!
We are now back in business and will be performing again starting in May!
Since our last blog post, we played a few shows in the San Francisco Bay Area, including at SF Music Day:
We want to take a moment to thank all of the people who backed our Kickstarter project and made it possible for us to produce our upcoming album, Variety Show. We are lucky to be surrounded by well-wishers and supportive people but then when those people actually (many who are struggling artist too) put their hard-earned money behind our projects, we are really moved. Really, we can feel your collective wind on our sails! :)
Thank you to those who gave money to our campaign.
Thank you to our colleagues, teachers, and gate keepers who took a chance on us and gave us advice, an opportunity, or a venue.
Thank you to our friends and family who housed us on tour or donated their time and efforts so that we can pursue our passion.
Thank you to those of you who took time out of your busy day to come out to one of our shows. We loved seeing everyone of you there at every show.
Thank you to the composers who wrote pieces for us, often at below-market rates.
Dear Mario Godoy, John Hain, Lanier Sammons, Ellen Wall, Gahlord Dewald, Curious Quail, Amy Likar, Alberto Hernandez, Sarah Goldstein Post, Jonathan Thompson, Cory Tiffin, Steven Ralph, Zach Herchen, Wes Flinn, Jared Yackiw, Jay C. Batzner, Manny Hernandez, Ryan Rey, Nathan Brown, Belinda Brouette, Kate Botelho, DL Brown, Kristin Elliott, Ellen and Stewart Satterfield, Matthew Pellegrino, David MacDonald, Kira Dralle, David Drexler, Dan Fendel, Mark Boseman, Robert Rabinowitz, Derek Stults, Kyle Flens, Jason Charney, Caleb Herron, Margaret Whelehan, Kevin Keller, Garrett Mendelow, P. D. Waltman, Edo Frenkel, Daniel Pate, Adam Neal, Dan McManus, Jenna Nishida, Jamie Wind Whitmarsh, Evan Runyon, Wei-Han Wu, Kendra Emery, Eddie Rothmel, Mark Connor, Don and Zandra Hill, Emlyn Johnson, Andrea Venet-Wills, Annie Stevens, Matthew Wallace, Holly Roadfeldt, Doug Machiz, Zack Browning, Brendon Randall-Myers, Rebecca Schmidt, Marisa Garber, Valerie Coleman-Page, Pavel Sullivan, Nicole Chamberlain, Barbara von Schilcher, Dan Thorpe, Lee Hartman, Peter Whitbeck, Gordon Fry, Ben Willis, Ivan Trevino, Lorraine Jones, Linda Reinkemeyer, Jill Quigley, Kristin Robinett, Jim Kuemmerle, U Chang and Kae Sook Shim, Brooks Frederickson, Julie Johansson, Anthony Joseph Lanman, Frances and Paul Stephan, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, Sarah Gartin, Miguel Rodriguez, Elizabeth Satterfield, Cathy Satterfield, Matt Sharrock, Aaron Jay Myers, Christopher Condon, Andrei Strizek, Carolyn Whitbeck, Shana Norton, Dale Trumbore, Thomas Whitbeck, Hannah Addario-Berry, Sara Allison, Sean Connors, Elizabeth Polischuck, Anna Norris, Apple Orange Pair, Jill Heinke Moen, Josh Ingojo, Sandra and John Warren, Bailey and Phil Whitbeck, Drew Baker, Debbie Girolamo, Jessica Rudman, Zach Nowak, Erik Jones, Chris Pine, Doctor Popular, Thomas Caprio, David Farrell, David Abraham, Giacomo Fiore, John H. Beck, Jennifer Bellor, Nikki Morton, Yun Chang, Chuck Furlong, Dani Metzger, Alan Theisen, Brian Stotz, Garrett Shatzer, Tom Dempster, Andrew Rodriguez, Kim Hickey, Aaron Gervais, Bill Cahn, Matt Payne, Isaac Schankler, Arlene & Larry Dunn, Stephen Lias, Claire Conwell, Ian Dicke, Philippa Thompson, Philip Gelb, Emma Logan, Andrea Reinkemeyer, Kristina Finch, Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn, Ned McGowan, Andrea La Rose, Dan Yang, Nicole Philipp, Anne McKennon, Post-Haste Reed Duo, Michelle McQuade Dewhirst, John Rush, Douglas Laustsen, Sue Rupp, Simon Hutchinson, and Ken Ueno,
Thank you for believing in us.
Meerenai and Chris
PS. If you pre-ordered a CD or download via Kickstarter, your CD/download is in the mail! If you missed your chance, you can pre-order the album now at abduomusic.bandcamp.com.
We've seen some weird/unusual stuff in the compositions we have performed over the years. Many of those unusual things translate into difficult things because they are things that we never expected to have to do. Here's our short list of the most unusual or difficult things we had to learn in order to perform some pieces.
(Composition - why it was unusual/difficult)
Ken Ueno building - Its not often that percussionists have to learn how to play non-percussion related instruments. But in Ken's piece I had to learn how to play the flute. At the beginning and the end of the work the percussionist plays a long tone on a flute headjoint for a minimum of 20 seconds. Definitely no small feat! After taking some lessons with Meerenai and putting in some practice time on my breath control I have a new appreciation for flutists.
Sidney Hodkinson Kerberos - This is a piece for solo snare drum and voice, that requires the percussionist to simultaneously speak and play. Performing the proper inflection of each word while coordinating my snare drum part was definitely a new experience. Combined with the aggressive nature of the text and aesthetic required a level of commitment to the performance that embodied the spirit of Kerberos, the multi-headed dog that guards the underworld in Greek mythology.
Mark Applebaum Straitjacket - The last movement, Taquinoid, requires each percussionist to complete a portion of a mural on a large piece of paper. The music is comprised of short rhythmic measures which correlate to the strokes of the pen on paper. Each percussionist plays unison rhythm, but with varying shapes that when you reach the end of the movement creates one large mural thats been drawn over 5 individual pieces of paper. Definitely check out a video of it on youtube if you've never seen it!
Janice Misurell-Mitchell The Art of Noise - As a percussionist, I'm often asked to play a variety of instruments in one piece. It's one of my favorite parts of playing percussion, the variety of instruments. Janice takes the art of variety (see what I did there) to a whole new level, in this one piece I play 38 different instruments over a12-minute work. Needless to say, the "choreography" of moves to each instrument was just as crucial as learning all the notes.
George Crumb Music for a Summer Evening - In the 2nd movement, entitled "wanderer-fantasy" both percussionists play slide whistles into the piano strings with the pedal depressed, creating an ethereal and dream-like atmosphere. Crumb creates a stunning texture but the difficulty is that the slide whistles parts are melodic with specific pitch and rhythm that interact to create various dyads. We had to mark on the slide whistle where our starting pitch was and then use our ears to correctly find each successive pitch. Glad I paid attention in aural skills class!
(Composition - why it was unusual/difficult)
Cornelius Boots Chthonic Flute Suite - The 3rd movement of this piece requires that the flutist playing the 1st flute part blow across what I like to call the butt end of the flute in the style of a ney and change pitches by depressing the keys in the foot joint and body of the flute. (!!!) It's genius, fun, effective, and really hard to get a consistently good sound from the very first note.
Ivan Trevino Things We Dream About - When Ivan asked me if I'd be cool with playing a little bit of drums on this piece, I said, "of course!" I said to myself, "how hard could it be?" Although the drum part for the flutist in this piece is rudimentary, it was a major challenge to keep a steady beat and actually learn a completely new instrument. This piece inspired me to take drum lessons. (Chris played all the drum parts when we recorded this piece!)
Ian Dicke Chaper One, Page One - This is a great piece for one flutist with a lot of looping and singing. The reason why I include this piece on this list is because I'm not a good singer. The flutist has to actually sing, for real. Not into the flute for a sound effect, but actually sing words in beautiful phrases. For someone who has never had a singing lesson, this is a major challenge.
Janice Misurell-Mitchell The Art of Noise - This was the first piece I've had to learn that combined many tricky aspects of performing contemporary classical music: most of the extended flute techniques, playing percussion instruments, and learning to perform while wearing a headset microphone.
Michael Gordon Yo Shakespeare - Both of the flute parts in the piece double on pan pipes. The pan pipe parts are really fast and it's very difficult to play on one intact actual tune-able pan pipe set. And, of course, I had zero actual pan pipe experience other than messing around on them now and then. I think this was the first time that I had to make instruments for a piece. I took a couple cheap bamboo pan pipe sets that I bought a long time ago and disassembled them, reassembled into useful pitch groups, and enlisted the help of my husband and his Dremel tool to cut the pipes into the correct frequencies.
What are some of the unusual things you've had to do in order to perform a piece? Let us know in the comments!
We've been sharing silly photos, video, and more on our social media accounts for a while. Here are a few of our favorite posts collected in one place for your viewing pleasure!
We just completed our two-week residency at Avaloch Farm. It's quite an amazing place. It's the only artist colony residency offered to chamber groups in the USA. Composers, writers, and visual artists have several artist colonies or residencies available to them but performing musicians rarely get the opportunity to just practice whatever they want, whenever they want, in their own rehearsal space in a beautiful and peaceful setting. Musicians only need to cover their travel expenses and everything else is taken care of by Avaloch.
There are many groups like us whose members live far away from each other. Any time they spend together is always precious. A typical tour for us includes meeting up 3 days before, rehearsing as much as possible, then drive any number of hours to our first show. Very rarely are we offered the opportunity to get together and take some time to nurture our projects. Avaloch allowed us to take the time to rehearse, brainstorm for the future, relax, and get some administrative work in, all without the pressures of doing this on tour, or having to premiere a piece after only a couple rehearsals.
Avaloch was conceived as an artist colony for chamber musicians modeled after the MacDowell colony by cellist Deborah Sherr and philanthropist Dr. Fred Tauber. 2014 was the second season of Avaloch Farm so the facilities were brand new and every detail was well-thought out. Every chamber ensemble has their own dedicated rehearsal space (some with excellent grand pianos). Each musician had their own room in two-bedroom suites. The basement of the living area had individual practice rooms, a small gym, and a game room with pool and ping pong tables. Three gourmet meals were prepared for us each day by resident chef Will Gamble in the amazing kitchen with its own herb garden.
In some ways these past two weeks were the best working vacation we could imagine. We went canoeing on the lake (on the Avaloch property) with pianist Rosabel Choi and played frisbee with the Asylum Quartet. We also played a few board games together in the main hall after day-long rehearsals and administrative meetings.
Whenever an ensemble wanted to play a short concert or try out a work in progress, we gathered in the main hall before or after dinner to listen to each other. These mini-concerts were also highlight of our stay. The other groups that were there in the first two weeks of June were as varied as you can image: Asylum Quartet (saxophone quartet), Liber Ensemble (a capella early music quartet), and pianist Rosabel Choi. Listening to these other amazing musicians and such a wide variety of musical styles was such a treat. We were honored to be in their presence and thoroughly enjoyed their company. In the evenings we shared wine together or happily kicked their butts in Taboo and Scrabble.
Of course Meerenai had a tough time being away from her beloved Lucy. Luckily, Avaloch had a couple of “pups” around to provide some much enjoyed dog-therapy.
We are so thankful that this place exists. While here, we have learned two new pieces that we will premiere in the Fall. We also worked out all the details on three pieces that we will record this August.
Tired of the same old Valentine's Day card?
Need a last minute Valentine's Day greeting?
Send one of ours!
A link to download our track "Love" for free (now through February 17, 2014) is included with each greeting.
1) Click on a design you like.
2) Send your special someone the link to the page you clicked on.
Hand drawn (on the computer) by Meerenai: