Duration: 4 Minutes
During the summer of 2020, the beginning of the lengthy period of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent a great deal of time on my back deck and in my backyard trying to perfect my grilling chops and feeding and watching birds. Naturally, the latter activity tends to attract wildlife of the rodent variety, especially the pesky and arrogant squirrels, who destroyed so many bird feeders that I had to take out a second mortgage to purchase another thousand.
And then there were the chipmunks, also pesky (like the squirrels) but more shy and humble than arrogant (unlike the squirrels), who were far too light and nimble to weigh down and destroy the birds’ feeders, but helped themselves to the birds’ food anyway. I could continue this description for hours, but the point is that there was this one chipmunk named Zippy who sorta rose to the top of her community and decided that I was a good pathway to the birds’-and-now-chipmunks’ feeders hanging from various poles attached to my deck, so she began to run up my legs and back and shoulders to jump on the railing to the feeders, collect her food, and run to my neighbor’s yard where she lived to store her food.
Eventually, I was able to give the birds a break by collecting food for Zippy so that she could eat from my hand. Some evenings she would perch on my neighbor’s fence and yell (as chipmunks do) until I came out to light the grill with a bunch a seed or corn or nuts in my hat (because I had to carry charcoal and utensils with my hands) when she would come running over and sit in my hat (on my head) to collect her food or play the harmonica.
Things went on like that for weeks and Zippy became a bit of a social media star on my various social media pages, which are, for a large part, populated by musicians who have performed my music, and who have expressed “likes” and other such reactions to selfies and videos of Zippy on my head.
This piece Zippy! is for Zippy-lovin’ musicians everywhere who want to play a four-minute piece requiring the energy and heartbeat of a chipmunk. While the original version is for the all-too-common standard instrumentation of soprano saxophone and English horn, whose repertoire rivals the string quartet, other versions will be made for similar pairs of instruments.
I spent a lot of time during the COVID-19 pandemic writing melancholy and angry music in forced isolation, during the reign of an authoritarian racist urging violence against his own constituents. Zippy! is the opposite of those musics as it is a recollection of the part of this troubling time when I made a friend who lifted my spirits and never once peed on my head while she ate from my hat.
And now she hibernates…
November 23, 2020
Zippy! was originally composed for soprano saxophone and English horn.
Versions exist for the following instrumentations:
- Soprano Saxophone and English Horn (Original version)
- Soprano and Alto Saxophones
- B-flat Clarinet and Alto Saxophone
- Oboe and English Horn
- Tenor Saxophone and Bassoon
- Tenor and Baritone Saxophones
- Bass Clarinet and Baritone Saxophone
- Bass Clarinet and Bassoon
- 2 Bass Clarinets
Friday, February 26, 2021 at 2:00 PM GMT by the Idesta Duo at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK.
Web Premiere Video
Soprano Saxophone: Carly Hood Alto Saxophone: Cecily Terhune Produced by Sapsucker Studios Filmed at the Charles Davis Mansion, Shelbyville, Indiana
How to Order
PDF files of performance sets (score and parts) of Zippy! are available for $10.00 USD for the first copy and $5.00 for each additional set and are payable via PayPal.
Please visit my contact page, and specify the specific instrumentation of the score you prefer. I will reply as soon as possible with complete information.
The buyer agrees not to distribute scores and parts of my music to others. (Distribution within your ensemble is okay, of course.)