Suite (2019)

I. - Prelude
II. - The Strasbourg Dancing Plague of 1518
III. - Guilty Feet
IV. - Allegro / The Nicest Comment Section on Youtube
V. - Tarantism

Suite was written for Byrne:Kozar:Duo in Copenhagen in early 2019.

A suite is a musical form, popularised in the 17th century. In that context a ‘suite’ is a collection of short musical pieces, usually baroque dances, often with an introductory first movement not in dance form called a prelude or overture. This suite, however, is not a collection of baroque dances, but rather a collection of short pieces inspired by dance or dancing in some way.

  • The first movement, Prelude, is an introduction of different types of small and quiet sounds that will appear throughout the rest of the piece.

  • The second movement, The Strasbourg Dancing Plague of 1518, is set to a poem by an unknown author describing how hundreds of Strasbourgians were gripped by a mysterious sickness that forced them to dance, without being able to stop, sleep or eat until the sickness passed, or alternatively they lost consciousness and/or died.

  • The third movement, Guilty Feet, revisits the sounds of the first movement, but this time including a drawn out and obfuscated quote to a well known pop song. 

  • The fourth movement is a pared-down arrangement of the second movement of Handel’s Suite in D major for Trumpet, where the lyrics are stitched together from an unusually friendly Youtube comment section under a video of a performance of the piece. What prompted me in doing this was, noticing that the top comment of the video, “Excellent performance! Very difficult trumpet to play. Bravo.” perfectly lined up with the opening line of the second movement.

  • The last movement, Tarantism, also describes a psychological illness that is characterized by an extreme impulse to dance, prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century. It was believed that the illness was caused by being bitten by a wolf spider (Lycosa tarantula). This folk belief is the origin of the Italian folk dance tarantella. The movement quotes snippets of a well known tarantella by Rossini.