Music for the Billions

(1998, rev. 2004) – – 1perc – piano –

When I had graduated from the Conservatory in Utrecht long ago I was commissioned to write a composition for two pianos, eight hands. I felt a great need for self-renewal. On the one hand I wanted to rid myself of the remnants of other people’s influences; on the other hand, as far as I was concerned, the big fat bone of dissonance tossed to us at the beginning of the twentieth century had in my view been picked clean. This urge for renovation led me towards tonality as an idiom for sound. I didn’t want a regression back to old ideas but a progression past the accomplishments of the twentieth century.

A lot can be said about what happened since then, positive or negative. Musical thematic layers, often blending into each other, became one of the characteristics of ‘my’ tonal style. Instruments often play the same music but differ in meters. Pulsation is often hidden.

Since 1997 I grew increasingly interested in more transparency with clear pulsation. Once in my life I wanted to write pulsating bass lines, a beat. I did that in 1998 in Music for the Billions in the first and last part. In the second movement you still can hear musical layers, blending into each other. Characteristics of this work are spontaneity and an angular style of composition.

While improvising I found myself playing an unbelievably silly tune in which sixth chords flew about my ears. The resulting melody haunted me, especially when at bed-time. In the third movement I tried to deal with this melody, once and for all.

The title Music for the Billions is obviously a wink at the present era of Music for the Millions. The audience, open for tonal contemporary music with a certain level of complexity, will always be limited.

Music for Billions was commissioned by the Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst.

A second percussionist can be useful.

Een toevoeging van een tweede slagwerker kan zinvol zijn.

1.Like an Introduction

2. Like a First Part

3. Like a Second Part

4. Like a Third Part

Music for the Billions, New York premiere – Bruce Hodges, Seen and Heard International Concert Review September 18, 2004.

…….”The work has clear nods to jazz and minimalism, with sometimes almost banal-sounding sonorities. In the third movement,he tries to deal with an “unbelievably silly tune in which sixth chords flew about my ears.” Few composers at the moment would even bother to tackle a subject seemingly rife with potential triteness, let alone come up with Nasveld’s exhilarating results. I didn’t find it forbidding at all; on the contrary, let’s get his music here more often!……”

The Untested Venture Into the Unknown at Juilliard 
– Allan Kozinn, New York Times Review September 21, 2004.

…….“Mr. Nasveld, born in the Netherlands in 1955, offered the most overtly cheerful music on the program. His ” Music for the Billions ” (1998, revised 2002) is largely tonal, but not simplistically so, and its juxtapositions of syncopated rhythms, its wide-ranging percussion (from castanets to a lion’s roar) and its passing allusions to everything from Rachmaninoff to Elmer Bernstein’s “Magnificent Seven” film score give the piece a subtle but enlivening sense of humor”……
Allan Kozinn, New York Times Review September 21, 2004