The Music of Eugene O'Brien
Indiana University New Music Ensemble
Taking Measures was commissioned in 1984 by the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art and the Cleveland Modern Dance Association, and was a collaborative effort between choreographer Albert Reid, scenic designer Paul Oberst, and myself. Although the music's formal design and character (and even its title) arose from choreographic requirements, I had hoped from the beginning that it might also be playable as a concert work. To that end I made a different version of the piece in 1985, re-writing a few passages and cutting out about ten min-utes of music. This is the form in which it will be played on the present concert.
The violin is the musical protagonist of both dance and concert versions. Its role, how-ever, is that of first among equals: at times it stands out in concerto-like relief, but elsewhere being one of only three strings in the piece and therefore necessary for ensemble work it is no more prominent than any of the other instruments.
In its concert form Taking Measures is a single movement about fifteen minutes in length. Its language is uncomplicated and direct, its meters and rhythms straightforward, its pulse frequently obvious: all qualities that betray its origin as dance music.