23 May Revenge! Revenge!! Revenge!!!
Revenge! Revenge!! Revenge!!! begins with the thinnest of musical wafers and stretches it thinner and thinner, using slowly evolving, repetitive structures. A tension develops between the constant forward motion implied by rigidly linear changes in pitch and rhythm, and the slow and halting way in which these changes occur.
This piece is a kind of sequel to Devilled Swan, which was commissioned by my former composition teacher John Beckwith as part of his 1994 Toronto Arts Award, and premiered by Arraymusic. Both pieces feature materials he advised us undergrads against using—chromatic scales, octaves, etc.—and breaking these ancient taboos was so exciting that I needed two pieces to do a proper job. (It should be emphasized that Prof. Beckwith doesn’t recall issuing any such prohibitions, and enough time has passed that I could have imagined them. Perhaps I needed to imagine them in order to pluck up the courage to break them. Certainly his teaching made a lasting impression; and despite their teasing façades, both pieces are dedicated to him with respect and affection.)
The title quotes the whisky-maddened and thirsty Captain Haddock after his flask is shattered by a stray bullet during a desert skirmish in The Adventure of the Crab with the Golden Claws, one of Hergé’s Tintin comic books. Revenge! Revenge!! Revenge!!! was premiered by the Composers Ensemble of Princeton in March 1996.