Musical Haikus for Band by Stephen Melillo
What is meant by “Musical Haiku?” Having studied many martial art forms for 43 years, and very much a student of the Chinese and Japanese philosophies, I would often make the writing of a “Musical Haiku” a means of quieting and centering myself, perhaps in between the depletions of writing larger works, like the Symphonies. On average, I have composed a Musical Haiku for every 21 pieces in the larger library of 1063 pieces.
I would often set a clock to 3:33 and create to that duration.
The beginnings of the Musical Haikus however, reside in the practicalities of serving as a band director in the public schools for 17 years.
A firm believer in the “centering” qualities of sonorous chorales as part of a meaningful warm-up, I would often arrive at school around 4:30 AM, compose with pen and paper, (this was before the non-tactile use of computer-based typesetting programs) prepare parts, photocopy and have the brief work ready for the 7:50 AM rehearsal. Self-impositions were; to create a meaningful work in a short duration, and employ error-free, well-crafted speed in producing something the kids would enjoy.
Their goals would then be to render a beautifully intoned, carefully reasoned and mixed representation of that spontaneous, instant work.
The FUNCTION CHORALES™ were born of this process and eliminated the need for transpositions and individual instrument parts. Indeed, because of their immense “functionality,” I was then able to compose FUNCTION CHORALES™ on the spot and in front of the kids on the blackboard for a rich and combined experience in Music Education. Eventually the kids would compose their own Function Chorales, supplying many weeks of original warm-ups for band, orchestra and jazz ensemble.
When the process had been carefully handed over to the kids, the Musical Haikus became personal outpourings, private re-centerings if you will. In addition to this recording, there are many other Musical Haikus, in a variety of settings and purposes, the Horn Haikus, works for strings, small groups, solo piano, narratives and more.
As you will discover, some these Musical Haikus have inspired, and were then embedded within larger works, like “I” of the Storm, Iconoclast, Aurora and Escape from Plato’s Cave to name only a few. Perhaps one day I will record these many other Musical Haikus for other CDs. This is but an introduction to an expansive, large body of work.
Each Musical Haiku depicts a snapshot in Time, a personal story... but that story is best expressed in the Music itself, with which I hope you will resonate, and like the kids, deeply enjoy.
Thank you for championing this work and Godspeed!