25 November 2015

Post 308: 'THOUGHTS' (COMPOSED BY ROBIN RAPUZZI)

A lovely new tune to appear on YouTube is Thoughts, played by Tuba Skinny and composed by their percussionist Robin Rapuzzi. It is a tune of which he has every right to feel proud.

You can hear Tuba Skinny playing it by clicking here (with thanks to the excellent video-maker RaoulDuke504 for capturing the performance and alerting the world to it).

Thoughts is played wistfully, at a gentle tempo. In this video (click on) you can see them taking trouble to get the tempo just right before playing it.

When you first hear it, you can easily fall into the trap of thinking it has a standard 32-bar structure (A - A - B - A) because it begins like that and also it runs to 96 bars (measures) in total - which normally would suggest it's played through three times (3 x 32).

But listen carefully and you find it is much more complex. The initial tune seems to comprise 40 bars, not 32 (A - A - B - A - A).

The 'A' theme is of a pretty rocking and 'descending the ladder' type. Its first four bars sound to me like this:


and the 'B' theme seems to have a deliberate echo of 'Mood Indigo'. It begins:


But after these forty bars, something different happens. There is a 16-bar 'Interlude' (let's call it Theme 'C') which seems to me to be using the related minor key. It begins something like this:


By the end of that, we have completed 56 bars.

So, 40 bars to go? Presumably the Main Theme (A - A - B -  A - A ) to be played again?

Well, yes, but not quite. What we get is A - A - (a strange) B - B - A.

In these final 40 bars, the first sixteen (led by the clarinet) are indeed the same as the opening sixteen (Theme A twice). But then we have the first four bars only of the 'B' (Mood Indigo) theme followed by 4 leaping new bars of melody. Then the full 'B' (eight bars) again, but with a slightly different ending from the first time it was played.

88 bars completed. 8 to go. These 8 turn out to be a final run through of Theme 'A'.


So in total, the 8-bar theme 'A' has been played seven times. It lingers is your head and you will be humming it for the rest of the day.

Robin wrote this piece during the band's Summer 2015 tour. It was - as he puts it - at first planned as a tune for 'Squeaky Violin'! But, he says: 'Sure sounds a lot better when the band plays it'!

I had the great pleasure of meeting Robin at the French Quarter Festival in April 2015.We had a very enjoyable chat as he prepared his washboard (and his fingers) to go on stage.
I hope we shall hear more of Robin's compositions in the future.