Monday, December 30, 2013

Jazz Meets Baseball

"Stealing Third" is a musical game inspired by the secret, encoded signals of a third base coach, who tells base runners to either "stay put" or "steal to third."

The game/piece requires a conductor and works well with a small group of musicians (probably no more than six players).  The conductor builds a piece using the signals below, in any order.  The various elements can and should be used more than once.

  • A clenched fist is used to get the attention of the players before giving an instruction.  The clenched fist is followed by...
    • a conducted "downbeat" indicating a contrast in texture during collective, group improvisation. (loud becomes soft, dense becomes sparse, etc.)
    • holding up 1, 2, 3 or 4 fingers and then pointing at specific players to cue an upcoming solo, duo, trio or quartet.  The players continue with the previous texture until a downbeat has been given.
    • a tug on the ear, which cues "cartoon sounds" (also known as, extended instrumental techniques). These could include playing a mouthpiece alone, tapping keys, closing the piano lid, blowing air through a horn, removing tubing from a brass instrument, etc.)  Upon the downbeat, the conductor quickly points at individuals who reveal their predetermined, unorthodox sounds.  The players must be "on their toes" and ready to react should they be pointed to next.  
    • touching his nose, signaling it is time to end the piece.  The players don't have to stop abruptly; rather, they end the piece organically.

[Click on the score to enlarge it to full size.]

Let's play ball!

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