Randall Woolf's "Punching the Clock" (2014) for NakedEye


Randall Woolf is one of those persons who, upon meeting for the first time, you want to hug until his head pops off. But even before I met the person, I fell in love with the composer. The first piece to catch my ear was Everything is Green for flute, piano, and track with sounds and a voice narrating David Foster Wallace's short story by the same name. It's a quiet, intense, and devastating tale of love and loss. The music is quiet, intense, and devastating. NakedEye Ensemble performed it the first of four times on April 7, 2012 in Lancaster, PA, in a venue that no longer exists. Since then, we’ve performed four of Randy’s works, including Punching the Clock, a 2014 commission funded by a grant from New Music USA. Randy took the train down to Lancaster from NYC to attend the premiere on February 8, 2015, and we had the great pleasure of working with him. NakedEye just finished recording the piece, which will be included on our debut album slated to come out in 2016.

Punching the Clock is a celebration of workers around the world through their songs. It’s scored for flute, clarinet, saxophone, cello, electric guitar, piano, percussion, and track. In the track, Randy samples workers’ songs and pairs them with a heavily blues-derived instrumental section. We were immediately seduced by the rhythms, energy, and expressiveness of the human voices emanating from the recording, and that, in turn, inspired us to interpret our parts in a similarly rhythmic, energetic, and expressive manner. It’s a piece that is so well crafted that it gives the performers the illusion of actually playing with the voices, instead of alongside them. It's almost as if those workers singing in the tape were listening to us as well. The upcoming performance of this piece at DCCC in Media, PA, on December 6 will be our second, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

“The kind of music I first fell in love with was the blues, in one form or another. My most recent love is music from other countries, cultures, places....what is usually called 'world music'. What strikes me is that a lot of music from around the world sounds so much like the blues, so much that I am starting to think of it as the universal essence of music. When Ju-Ping Song asked me for a piece for the NakedEye Ensemble, my first thought was to explore this connection, as I have in other recent pieces. I thought that work songs would be a good focus for this, as they are found everywhere, and so often have that blues element, or the livelier cousin of the blues, boogie woogie. Wailing, driving rhythms, sliding notes and rough percussive sounds...these common points really entranced and fascinated me. The result is Punching The Clock. I took bits of work songs from around the world, surrounded them with new harmonies, melodies, and juxtaposed and blended them with each other. I hope I came up with something new that is somehow familiar to people everywhere. It's dedicated to Ju-Ping and the marvelous NakedEye Ensemble, with gratitude and admiration.”   – Randall Woolf

Come hear Randy's piece along with others written for NakedEye this Sunday, December 6, 3pm @ DCCC, Media, PA.

Posted on December 3, 2015 .