Dharma Pops for violin duo and narrator (2006)

Duration c. 10 minutes Commissioned and premiered by Duo Gelland, July 2007, Helsinborg, Sweden.
Audio Sample
(Performers: Carla Kihlstedt, Graeme Jennings, Matthias Bossi)

Recording available on “Same Rivers Different” by Michael Fiday, Innova Recordings (https://www.innova.mu/albums/michael-fiday/same-rivers-different)

Program Notes

POP – American (non-Japanese) Haikus, short 3-line poems or “pomes” rhyming or non-rhyming delineating “little Samadhis” if possible, usually of a Buddhist connotation, aiming towards enlightenment.

Jack Kerouac

Dharma Pops are musical reactions to haiku by Jack Kerouac.  As alluded to in Kerouac’s definition above, “pops” can be taken to mean spontaneous written observations – thoughts that “pop” into mind. The musical reactions to each play out in a flash, few lasting much more than a minute. In addition to the ten haiku that form the basis of the music, the opening of Kerouac’s 239th Chorus from Mexico City Blues – “Charley Parker looked like Buddha” – also provided an important springboard. I liked how this one brief line seemed to place starkly opposed characteristics – urbane with pastoral, velocity with stillness, unfettered with centered, etc. – on the same ground together. Many of the miniatures bear references to bebop era jazz, some literal, some disguised, and others unrecognizable beneath the surface. I liked to imagine that, though Kerouac’s haiku may have been written in a meditative state high on a mountain somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, the buzz of 52nd Street was never that far behind. Dharma Pops was originally composed for Sweden’s Duo Gelland.

Video, by Charles Woodman: https://vimeo.com/83183973