Get Up/Get Down, 2006 (15′)
for large ensemble
I grew up in New York City, and I grew up listening mostly to hip hop music. In the late 1980s and into the mid-1990s, hip hop beats were full of outstanding samples from funk, soul, and jazz, and the sounds of those musics were lodged in my memory through the filter of rap. Later in life, I was introduced to the original material, and fell for it, hard – from Philadelphia Soul to Afro-Beat to late Motown and everything in between.
One of my personal beliefs about writing music is that whatever we love will be present in the work we make, like it or not. That presence won’t always be overt, but it will somehow work its way in there. The “elephant in the room” for my own music is the question of where my hip hop background makes itself known in my “classical” compositions. I think there are ways in which this happens that are subtle and interesting (probably only to me), but it does seem strange that so few of my works have explored anything connected to the music that brought me in to the world of music-writing.
A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to go straight at this issue, and write something funky, leaving hip hop aside, and going towards the source material that I now love. Get Up/Get Down is the result of that ambition, not as a self-conscious “exploration of funk” or something ridiculous like that, but as a piece where I let myself be pulled towards material that has always attracted me – funky basslines, big horn hits, snare drum and hi-hat-driven drum patterns (largely left to the imagination of the drummer), wah-wah guitar licks. I wasn’t trying to write a “funk song”, but I opened a door that I often enter as a listener, this time with my composer hat on. The result is a piece that’s not quite like anything I’ve ever written – in a good way. Get Up/Get Down is dedicated to my good friends Nat Bessey and Jennifer Curley, as a wedding present, and a token of funky affection.