For Me and My Gal, Revisited

To begin with, some clarifications are in order as to the nature of the original release of For Me and My Gal. Many listeners, insofar as “many” can be said to listen to my music, were confused by the original release and perhaps thought I had lost my mind. How on earth could I have sought to pastiche Beethoven, Schumann, Schoenberg etc. and come out with what I had? Was I either deaf or incompetent, they wondered. Even people who knew my music quite well, including the living composers name-checked in the original titles, were baffled, though amiably so.

By way of dispelling any confusion or doubt as to my intentions, let me say that pastiche was never my goal. Rather, and I said as much in my original liner notes, I simply wished to acknowledge those composer and pianists whose own work had been important to me in the time leading up to the conception and realisation of the piece. Yet the names cast the music into deep shadow, and it couldn’t ever be taken for what it was, only for what it was presumed to have attempted to be. To me it was obvious, but to others not clear at all, that in the prelude I named for Ravel I had no intention of writing à la manière de. Much so the others: not a note was spent on attempted emulation.

Next, and this was entirely my fault, I raised the spectre of the Diabelli Variations and rambled on about Veränderungen like a champagne sipping party guest no one in their right mind would listen to in earnest. In truth, these preludes—and that is by and large what they are, not variations—bear little to no relation to the way the Veränderungen of Beethoven relate to their original theme. My preludes are, as I said, just that, not variations in any real sense of the word, but taking inspiration from a theme in different ways, some more direct than others. Of course, some do bear the hallmarks of variation, and those preludes are variations, but in general there is no uniformity of relationship between the original theme and the preludes that follow to make all or even most of the preludes here a variation.

It is my hope that, with the attachments that once weighed it down removed, this music can now be appreciated, or disliked, or ignored entirely on the basis of its own apparent value to each listener. Though I know some people find my usual manner of titling my works quite difficult to take seriously, I believe it is clear now precisely why I do it that way. There can be no false preconception loaded into the title if the title refers to nothing identifiable, at best there can be a sense of “what could this possibly sound like?” And that is the best way to approach any kind of music.

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