David Gunn [composer, writer, isosogist]


Bassooner or Later
bassoon quartet (2003)
Written for Acolade (sic), a Bucharest-based bassoon quartet. I don’t know if the group ever played it, or, indeed, if Acolade is still in existence. (Its latest web presence is 2004.) It begins in the whole-tone universe, then gets sucked into an aleatoric blues black hole where strange time signatures assail it.
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The Help Me Rondo
Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello, gong, piano (1995)
VCME asked me for a piece that played off the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” however, the Turtle Island String Quartet beat me to it. Instead I borrowed themes from “Help Me Rhonda.” There’s a theatrical aspect to the tune: midway through the fugal section, the percussionist drops his music and calls for help. The other musicians ignore him, however he recovers and rejoins them at the piano with a timely glissando.
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Out of the Dark
Bb clarinet, violin, keyboard synthesizer (1994)
Written as incidental music for Ray Bradbury’s theatrical production of Something Wicked This Way Comes. Its dark color complemented the dark onstage activity (a consequence of an unpaid electric bill).
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Billions of Brazilians
flute, alto sax, trumpet, Fr. horn, trombone, marimba, string bass, percussion (billions of ’em) (1989)
The Holy Guacamole Pick-Up Orchestra premiered it at Middlebury College. Members of the Vermont Youth Orchestra played it at Gunnapalooza. In between, it was treated to a studio recording that wound up on Albany Records’ Troy 535. Warning: whole-note melodies abound!
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5 French horns (2006); brass quintet (2010)
I initially wrote this tune for five French horns, but a horn player hinted that it was too hard to play. By chance, I noticed that its melodic lines fit well with a brass quintet. Ergo, the revision.
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Quibbling With Quokkas
Bb clarinet, bassoon, marimba, cello, piano (2000)
Essential Music commissioned this fine tune but disbanded before performing it. Too bad, because its original scoring of alto flute, two marimbas, cello and piano would’ve been most entertaining to hear.
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Boss à Nova
synthesizer, guitar, piano, bass guitar, drum kit (2006)
Due to the unfortunate dearth of largesse from commissions, I rely on a part-time dayjob to generate advantageous income. The employmental situation includes a “boss” – but hardly a typical one. Ergo, I wrote this tune for her on the occasion of Boss’s Day (i.e. October 16) in 2006.
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Hunting Tuna
brass quintet (1994)
This bluesy variation on Justin Morgan’s “Huntington” was composed for the bicentennial celebration of Stowe, Vermont, however it wasn’t performed until the “Somewhere East of Topeka” studio recording. Various changing time signatures give the piece a pleasantly out-of-kilter feeling.
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Running Lights
Bb clarinet, soprano sax, Bb trumpet, marimba, violin, piano (1994)
No matter it features six different time signatures, this is the closest I have yet come to writing a minimalist piece.
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The Conchoid of Nicomedes
flute, Bb clarinet, bassoon, piano (2006)
Viente, the all-woodwind component of the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, commissioned this fine tune, which begins life in the whole-tone scale universe.
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Bb clarinet, baritone sax, Bb trumpet, marimba, harpsichord, piano (1997)
Written for the “Somewhere East of Topeka” CD recording, it hasn’t been performed since. Who among you would care to correct this wrong? Instrumental parts provided at fire sale rates!
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Bb clarinet, violin, piano (1998)
A tango that is equal parts fandango and mango, inspired by the tropical rhythms and cocktails of Pango Pango.
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Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello (1995)
Metrically marked Andante with a full udder, this bovine blues follows the multiple-stomached digestive process of man’s best friend. A VCME commission.
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Bb clarinet, marimba, cello (1994)
A peaceful trio with an occasional jagged melodic line. Not a single maraca in sight.
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A Song, a Dance and a Spizder
1. Dance of the Hasidic Chigger Hecklers
Bb clarinet, alto sax, violin, cello, piano, finger cymbals
2. Not the Right Balloon
speaker, Bb clarinet, alto sax, violin, cello, piano
3. Do Aliens Wear Sombreros?
soprano, Bb clarinet, alto sax, violin, cello, piano, cicadas (1992)
My first commission from the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, SDS owes its funding to the New Music Across America series. The klezmery “Dance” is mostly in 9/8 time; the “Spizder” (i.e., Balloon) uses a wordplay-filled story of mine as text; and the “Song” employs more of my lyrics as well as a whining cicada key ring to faithfully imitate the aliens.
1. The Dance  mp3 file pdf file
2. The Spizder  mp3 file pdf file
3. The Song  mp3 file pdf file
Cyan Aura
flute-piccolo, Bb clarinet, violin, cello, piano (2005)
At 16+ minutes, it’s my longest single-movement composition to date. Said one reviewer, “It’s (a) kinda neo-Bach with a sinister streak, (b) Phantom of the Opera on a topsy-turvy carnival ride or maybe lost in the fun house, or (c) riding in a Roman taxi and hanging on for dear life.” Also (d) a VCME commission.
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Les moineaux géants picotants
flute, Bb clarinet (2000)
Oh wait. This two-instrument tune belongs under Duets. So look there. 
Bb clarinet, violin, cello, piano (2002)
I composed this elegy for a special cat named Tanner on the night of and days following her euthanasia. Over the piece’s opening 17/16 time signature, the cello plays a melancholy two-note phrase that calls her name.
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oboe, 2 bassoons, viola, cello (2004)
Written for members of the Vermont Youth Orchestra, who premiered it at the Gunnapalooza concert.
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Locomotives stalking a leopard in a china closet
five percussionists and playback (2007)
Written for “The Long Roll,” a concert that featured a convergence of five quality percussionists – and me, playing the part of “the leopard.”
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3 theremins, accordion, video (2003)
Against a videotape depicting a tour of Minerva, a Nevada ghost town, three theremins are anchored by recurring chords on an accordion. That’s it! Hmm, can’t seem to locate a recording of this tune. But a video would be even more instructive.
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faux pastiche
Bb clarinet, violin, cello, piano (2001)
A pasticcio for New York City. Of the nine themes, three – collapse, aftermath and revivification – connote events of September 2001. The “collapse” theme is but two measures, representing a brief if consternating interlude in the city’s collective continuum. A VCME commission.
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The Mesopotamian March & Mango
brass quintet and saw (1975)
Written for a cousin who was studying trumpet at Indiana University. Due to an administrative error, its first official performance was delayed by nearly two decades.
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alto sax, elec. guitar, bass, piano, string bass, drum kit (2007)
The third in a series of Boss’s Day tunes. Not yet performed.
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Fifty Birds
Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, violin, cello (1999)
A surprise 50th birthday present for fellow composer Dennis Báthory-Kitsz. VCME learned it in one day and performed it the next at a concert on which both of us had other premieres. If you listen carefully, you may detect a certain familiar theme.
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Missing Inn March, The
Bb clarinet, alto sax, bass clarinet, Bb trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, percussion (1996)
In March 1996, Dennis Báthory-Kitsz and I journeyed to Europe to interview composers for our weekly radio show. We both wrote tunes to be performed in our “missing in March” absence. Neither was, though MIM ultimately made it onto the “Somewhere East of Topeka” recording (as if it didn’t contain enough whole-tone tunes).
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Transcendental Medication
alto sax, bass clarinet, cello, piano (2001)
No, not meditation – medication. There aren’t many meditative moments in this tune. Why, there’s barely enough time to process one batch of notes before a slew of others comes barreling down the ol’ syncopation highway. Deep relaxation? Ha! Mantras? Who needs ’em?! Another VCME commission.
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Forbidden Kitchen
oboe, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, synthesizer, piano, string octet, double bass, drum kit (2006)
Written for members of the Hunger Mountain Co-op kitchen staff. Attentive listeners may hear the “theme of the cutting boards.” See also the fully orchestrated version. Not yet performed.
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marimba, piano, harp, guitar, bass, drum kit, cowbell (2007)
The second in a series of Boss’s Day tunes. Not yet performed.
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Trio Incognito
2 alto saxophones + 1 tenor saxophones (2007)
or 2 Bb clarinets + 1 bass clarinet
The saxophone version performance featured some counting issues, however the clarinet-only rendition was right on. And that’s the one presented here for your entertainment.
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Going Like Sixty
Bb clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion (1997)
Written for the sixtieth birthday of Jane Pincus, an editor of the Boston Women’s Health Collective’s “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” Ergo, the initial theme symbolizes “gentlemen for gentle menses.”
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Out Back
SAT recorders or other family of woodwinds (1985)
Written for Wendy Ogg, a hitchhiking Australian I met in San Felipe, Mexico. Frankly, she deserved a better tune. It’s included here for archival purposes, only.
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The Troll’s Awful Curse
flute, oboe, 2 Bb clarinets, bassoon, French horn, trombone, piano, narrator/tenor, witch (1972)
For archival purposes, only! A very early tune, included here just to illustrate how far I’ve supposely come, tunesmithwise.
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synthesizer, piano, violin, elec. guitar, bass guitar, drum kit, extra percussion (2008)
The fourth in a series of Boss’s Day tunes. Not yet performed. Also arranged for flute + playback. (See Solo Music.)
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oboe, clarinet, bassoon, harp, keyboard, synthesizer, violin, double bass (2009)
Written for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes “Plant A Seed” promotion. (We didn’t win.) Not yet performed.
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Fugue State
2 flutes (incl. piccolo), Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons (2009)
Four movements that illustrate the dissociative and attention deficit disorder processes. A VCME commission.
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Under the Hill
oboe, marimba, elec. guitar, bass guitar, harp, piano, synthesizer, violin, viola, cello, double bass (2010)
A friendly little tune that begins life in the lydian mode. Not yet performed. (Sure are a lot of these.)
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Euphonicum Tangenturis
flute, clarinet, piano (2010)
ET blends a bevy of diverse musical styles into a tasty 11-minute tour de force. This Vermont Public Radio performance is from September 6, 2013.
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The Flutes of our Labours
2 flutes, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass (2011)
Written for the 2011 Desert Suzuki Institute, F of L begins life in the Ars Nova universe, then goes on its merry way for 7½ minutes.
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The Fifth Universal Principle of Alignment
eight-part flute choir [including contrabass]  (2012)
Winning composition, 2012 National Flute Association Flute Choir Composition Competition. Performance from the Monster Flute Choir concert, Denton, Texas.
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Fall In Arches
seven-part flute choir (2012)
Commissioned by the Utah  Flute Association; performance by the Vermont Virtuosi Flute Ensemble at Middlebury College.
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Alt Basalt
alto, alto, and bass flutes (2012)
Commissioned by Christine Potter.
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flute, clarinet, alto sax, bassoon (2012)
Lexann was the theme of my 342nd introductory essay to Kalvos and Damian’s New Music Bazaar. Its connection to Lexanne is, however, tenuous at best. A VCME commission.
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Les visions de Bellimar
flute, viola, piano (2013)
Commissioned by Laurel Ann Maurer. The live recording is from a studio performance by Vermont Virtuosi.
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oboe, guitar, chimes, kalimba, harp, piano, 2 synthesizers, cello, double bass (2013)
Conceived as background music to a stretching video, it evolved into something more.
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Eventful Heroics
seven-part flute choir (2014)
Entirely in 5/4 time. Commissioned and performed by Vermont Virtuosi.
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The Third Highway
flute, violin, piano (2014)
Entirely in 4/4 time, though it’s not always apparent. Commissioned and performed by Vermont Virtuosi.
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Phonographic Memories
seven-part flute choir with optional contrabass (2015)
Commissioned and performed by the Texas Woman's University/Brookhaven Flute Choir
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La Morenada Meadowbrook
2 guitars, harp, piano, harpsichord, drum kit (2015)
Written for the wedding of Shawna and Giles.
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The View from Six Windows
flute/piccolo B-flat clarinet, string quartet (2016)
Commissioned by Vermont Virtuosi..
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Along the Karakash
flute, B-flat clarinet, cello, piano (2016)
Commissioned by Vermont Virtuosi..
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it's always ourselves we find in the sea
piccolo and string quartet (2017)
Entirely in 4/4 time. Commissioned by Vermont Virtuosi.
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Alice’s Music Box
harp, piano, xylophone, marinba (2017)
Written on the occasion of Alice Brulé’s first birthday.
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