Tone Poem Tuesday (Thursday Edition)

Yup, another really busy week…plus, Tuesday fell on The Wife’s birthday and I didn’t want to bury her post below Tone Poem Tuesday, so here we are.

Interesting piece today, in that there isn’t a single string or wind instrument in it. It’s a work for percussion only! Composer Julia Perry only lived fifty-five years, but apparently she was a very prolific composer, and her dedication was such that when a stroke robbed her of the use of her right hand, she taught herself to use her left in order to keep composing. Perry was hard-working and highly accomplished, winning not one but two Guggenheim fellowships to further her musical study. I’d never heard of her before Googling “Black classical composers,” and once again as I have throughout this exercise, I am led to wonder, “Why have I never heard of this person?”

“Homunculus C.F.” is a short piece for percussion ensemble. Perry wrote the work in 1960 while living in an apartment above her father’s medical office. She specifically winds the piece around the “Chord of the Fifteenth,” hence the initials in the title. The piece is modern and abstract and fresh, sounding almost like it had been improvised yesterday instead of being composed nearly sixty years ago.

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