Midway to Midtown
In 2017, I had the opportunity to visit New York City. One of the first things I noticed about the city was that it was constantly buzzing with the sounds of life. Whether it was the sounds of trains and traffic or the chirping of birds in Central Park mixing with the continuous chatter of millions of people, there was always a source of sound in the city. Midway to Midtown is inspired by the music of the city constantly “chattering” and moving around me as I visited different sites or stopped in a random dive bar in the middle of the night to hear the familiar sounds of blues rock being played from the corner of the room.
Based on a tune by Stevie Ray Vaughan (a famous Texas blues guitarist I grew up listening to) called “Scuttle Buttin’”, Midway to Midtown is a fast-paced, highly energetic work. A “scuttle butt” is an old term for a water cooler and “scuttle buttin’” is an old term for gossiping around the water cooler—how stories get told a lot in the South. Midway to Midtown is full of quotations from blues riffs, harmonies which evoke a jazz-based sound, and aggressively picked and slapped bass to mimic the sounds of a blues rock band like the one I heard on my first night in New York City.
In order to pay homage to the source of inspiration for this work, the initials “SRV” and “RLH” (my dad’s initials – who was fellow guitar player in his day) are serialized and presented in the opening chord of the piece. S = E-flat, R = D, V = A, L = A-flat, and H = B. This same pitch material is later presented melodically and treated as a secondary theme.