Nicodemus! The Beds are Burning Again: The Ascension of Gorgomath
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Nicodemus! The Beds are Burning Again: The Ascension of Gorgomath is a 22-minute concerto for piano and chamber orchestra that explores the use of narrative as a means of unifying disparate musical languages into a cohesive single-movement structure. The narrative, as implied by the fourteen programmatic indicators within the score, features a protagonist, Nicodemus, and an antagonist, Gorgomath. Additional contrasting elements essential to the plot are: the burning beds, outer space, the ultimate weapon, and the three rituals. The programmatic indicators, to be listed in the program, function as a framework from which the listener can fabricate their own version of the story. The narrative begins with “The beds are burning,” a heavy-metal inspired musical theme characterized by a pervasive rhythmic structure interspersed with virtuosic piano displays. Full orchestral forces add to the intensity of a relentless motor rhythm heard first in the piano. Following “Ritual I,” a transitionary theme of soli strings and piano, Nicodemus’s theme develops, a musical antithesis to “The Burning Beds” theme. It employs a simple melodic loop over a basic four-chord harmonic structure, reminiscent of 8-bit video game themes, and is voiced as piano accompanied by tremolo in the woodwinds and strings. Nicodemus’s journey into space begins with a rapid deceleration in tempo. The following slow ternary form includes a funerary dirge bookended by the piece’s most lyrical piano writing, expressed by the rise and fall of melodic octaves. The pounding neo-Shostakovian strings of “Ritual II” transition directly into the development section, “Nicodemus seeks the ultimate weapon.” Nicodemus’s theme undergoes significant transformation, assuming the guise of stride piano and North Indian tabla music. These styles are unique to this section, as is their orchestration of high, sustained winds alternating with orchestral hits between low strings and percussion. The piece’s recapitulation, “Meanwhile…,” begins with a return of the burning beds. Here, “Gorgomath’s Theme,” identifiable by the instability of its 7/16 motor rhythm is briefly foreshadowed. It appears in its entirety in the coda, “Boss Battle.” The resulting work uses original narrative to blend polystylistic elements into a cohesive single movement structure with a dramatic musical arc.
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Abstract -- Instrumentation -- Program listing -- Nicodemus! The beds are burning again: the ascension of Gorgomath 00 Vita