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MP3 David Franks - Whistling in the Dark!

David Franks is conducting a fleet of tugboats (6), having written
& rehearsed tone clusters for their horns & whistles in a "non-futile exercise in futility" ending up in the same place I began with a loss of quality -- the piece is cartoon-like.

1 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Contemporary, KIDS/FAMILY: Kid Friendly

“WHISTLING IN THE DARK!” – (a non-futile exercise in futility!)

The noble &, to my mind, singularly American object of this piece was –
“to use great ingenuity & time consuming labor – to end up at the same place I began with a loss of quality!”

I have lived on & off for many years in Baltimore. When I have lived in Baltimore, it has always been in Fells Point, which is the oldest part of the City & right on the Harbor. The harbor block I live on houses two fleets of tugboats owned respectively by Baker-Whiteley & Moran, Inc.

The various whistles & horns of the tugboats, then, have been a very significant part of the City Music that is always in my ears.

As I am a somewhat odd but familiar presence, the Chief, Manuel Alvarez, & crew of the Baker-Whiteley fleet agreed to rehearse a series of tone-clusters I had composed for their horns & whistles.

After substantial rehearsal, I conducted the tugs in a series of tone clusters for the first movement of the poem. I then had them repeat this sequence in reverse order for the second movement of the poem.

Finally, I took the recording of the first movement, copied it on analogue & used it for the third movement.

In this way, I ended up “at the same place I began with a loss of quality resulting from the reproduction of the tape” -- thus the intended futility was achieved!

It has proved to be a very popular piece & I have often conducted it on the 4th of July.

David Franks
Fells Point, Baltimore 2006

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