Duckworth, William (Ervin)

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Duckworth, William (Ervin)

Duckworth, William (Ervin), versatile American composer, pianist, teacher, and writer on music; b. Morganton, N.C., Jan. 13, 1943. He studied with Mailman (composition) at East Carolina Univ. (B.M., 1965) and with Johnston (composition), Robert Gray (Trombone), and Charles Leonhard (education) at the Univ. of 111. (M.S., 1966; D.M.Ed., 1972, with the diss. Expanding Notational Parameters in the Music of John Cage). He was founder-director of the Assn. of Independent Composers

and Performers (1969–72) and president of the Media Press (1969–72). From 1973 he taught at Bucknell Univ. He was also active as a pianist. In his highly diversified output as a composer, Duckworth has imaginatively utilized pop, jazz, minimalist, and other elements to forge a remarkable personal style of expression. His The Time Curve Preludes for Piano (1977–78) marked the beginning of postminimalism. In his Gathering Together/Revolution for Mallet Percussion, Drums, and Keyboards (1992–93), he created the first chance-determined postminimalist “moment form.” His Cathedral, a work especially created for the Internet, went on line on June 10, 1997, and incorporates acoustic and computer music, live webcasts, and newly created virtual instruments. This five-year work is planned for completion in 2001 in a live and online 48-hour concert with sounds incorporated into the piece from sites around the globe.


An Unseen Action for Flute, Prepared Piano, and 4 Percussion (1966; Cleveland, May 17, 1968); Gambit for Percussion and Tape (1967); Non-ticking Tenuous Tintinnabule Time for 4 Electric Metronomes and Percussion Quartet (Hamilton, N.Y., Oct. 15,1968); Introjection for Guitar (1968); A Peace for 20 Voices (1968); A Ballad in Time and Space for Tenor Saxophone and Piano (1968); Knight to King’s Bishop 4 for Dancer and Gong (1968); The Sleepy Hollow Elementary School Band for 20 to 60 Instrumentalists (1968); Pitch City for Any 4 Wind Players (1969); Western Exit for Movie, Slides, Announcer, and Chamber Ensemble (1969); Memories of You… for Any Instrumentation (1969); When in Eternal Lines to Time Thou Grow’st for Orch. (1970; Philadelphia, June 22, 1974); Walden for Any Number of Instruments, Dancers, Readers, Slides, and Movies and/or Lights (1971; Hartford, Dec. 10,1972); Walden Variations for Any Number of Instruments, Dancers, Readers, Slides, Movies and/or Lights (1971; Urbana, March 14, 1972); Sound World I for 3 or More Instrumentalists (1972; Chapel Hill, N.C., Sept. 27, 1973); A Mass for These Forgotten Times for Chorus (1973); Gymel for 4 Mallet Percussionists or Keyboards (1973); 7 Shades of Blue for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (Brunswick, Maine, April 29, 1974); A Summer Madrigal for Flute, Violin, Piano, 2 Percussion, and Rock Singer (1976); Silent Signals for Percussion Quartet (1976); A Book of Hours for Flute, Violin, Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (Brunswick, Maine, Oct. 17, 1976); The Last Nocturn for Piano (1976); The Time Curve Preludes (1977–78; Middletown, Conn., Feb. 6, 1979); Year for Amplified Prepared Piano and Slides (1979); Music in 7 Regions for Amplified Piano or Synthesizer (1979; Philadelphia, June 17, 1983); Southern Harmony for Chorus (1980–81; 1st complete perf., Lewisburg, Pa., Feb. 28, 1992); Simple Songs About Sex and War for Voice and Piano (1983–84; Huddersfield, England, Nov. 29, 1987); Songs of the Pale Horseman for Chorus and Live Electronics (1984; rev. 1985 and 1990); Tango Voices for Piano (Oslo, Aug. 19, 1984); Imagi-nary Dances for Piano (1985; rev. 1988); 31 Days for Any Solo Woodwind (1986); Music in the Combat Zone for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble (Philadelphia, Nov. 1,1986); Polking Around for Accordion (1986; arranged for Ensemble by G. Klucevsek, 1988); 12 Words for Solo Instrument or Voice and 4 Similar Instruments (1989–90; N.Y., March 24, 1990); Slow Dancing in Yugoslavia for Accordion (WNYC-FM, N.Y., March 21, 1990); Blue Rhythm for Violin/Flute, Cello, and Piano (1990; Philadelphia, Feb. 3,1991); Their Song for Baritone and Piano (1991; N.Y., May 13, 1993); Gathering Together for 2 Keyboards and 2 Mallet Percussion (Rome, Sept. 21,1992); Revolution for 2 Pianos and 4 Percussion, amplified (1992–93; N.Y, March 25, 1993); Processional for String Orch. (1994); Mysterious Numbers for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano, and Percussion (Orlando, Fla., June 21, 1996; also for Orch., Cleveland, April 14, 1997); Nostradamus, computer-generated piece for the Internet (Oct. 5, 1997); Cathedral piece for the Internet (1997–2001); Ghost Dance for Orch. (Charleston, S.C., May 29, 1998); Dreaming Dances, Round and Square for Chamber Ensemble (Philadelphia, Oct. 2, 1998).


With E. Brown, Theoretical Foundations of Music (1978); A Creative Approach to Music Fundamentals (1981; 5thth

ed., 1994); ed. with R. Fleming, John Cage at Seventy-Five (1989); Talking Music: Conversations with 5 Generations of American Experimental Composers (1995); Sound and Light: La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela (1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire