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  • Serena Huang

Premieres of Works by Michael Shingo Crawford

This summer, I had the honor of learning and recording 2 original works by my good friend Michael Shingo Crawford! Michael's music has always resonated with me, and you can purchase the sheet music for these and various other compositions on his website.


Crawford: "Peeck at the Kil" for Solo Flute

Crawford: "Derive" | III. Accelerated

Jan Peeck was a Dutch trader who was the first European to make contact with Native Americans in the New Amsterdam region that would later become the state of New York. The modern city of Peekskill takes its name from Peeck, combined with “kil,” the Dutch word for stream. Peeck at the Kil takes a snapshot from this 17th century history and imagines Jan Peeck gazing over the Hudson River, envisioning the possibilities of this unknown land. The choice of subject is a result of my recent trip to Peekskill, a place where I spent much of my childhood. The more playful and jocose moments in the music refer to these early memories and acknowledge the titular pun.

Derive turns to equations and differential calculus for pitch material. The first movement uses the equation 𝑓(𝑥)=0.5𝑥3− 0.5𝑥2−10𝑥. This function may represent the position of an object at any point in time, hence the name of the movement. Integer inputs in the range -6 to 5 produce a sequence of numbers that can be converted into pitches. The resulting series of pitches, with the contour of a graphed cubic equation, appear in fragmented forms in the opening of the piece, developing towards a complete statement at the end of the first section. The second movement is based on 𝑓′(𝑥)=1.5𝑥2− 𝑥−10, the first derivative of the original equation. This function calculates instantaneous velocity, the rate of change in the position of the object at any moment in time. This movement applies the equation more loosely—rather than extrapolating exact pitches based on the outputs, it merely replicates the parabolic contour of the graphed function. 𝑓′′(𝑥)=3𝑥− 1, the second derivative, serves as the basis for the third movement. This function tracks acceleration, or the rate of change in velocity. For each integer inputted, the resulting value is three greater than the previous one. This may be represented musically through a fully diminished seventh chord which consists of four pitches spaced three semitones apart. Two of these chords transposed and superimposed produce the octatonic scale, with alternating half steps and whole steps. These are the chordal and scalar materials around which the third movement revolves. The overlapping rising lines of varying lengths create a sense of constant ascent, alluding to the linear function’s infinitude.

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