These five brief movements each imagine some way of illustrating its title, drawn from current vernacular. Each is constructed from an 8-note synthetic scale, with the five scales incorporating some similarities. The pitches are employed freely, with various harmonic flavours extracted from the scales (e.g. whole-tone) from moment to moment. All should be performed in strict metronomic time, avoiding any variation in tempo.
I. Slippery Slope - The several slow, inexorable cascading effects are sometimes preceded by a climb to “altitude”. The final gesture is a quick, joking upward swoop. Duration about 2’20”.
II. On the Back Burner - This has a relaxed, apathetic temperament. Plodding and repetitive textures are occasionally interrupted by tutti gestures that soon subside, as if in exhaustion. Duration about 2’05”.
III. One Crisis At a Time - A single strand of busy, Baroque-ish melody is inflected with occasional harmony and parallel motions that suggest some degree of panic. About 2’10”.
IV. Bells & Whistles - A quirky march with a principal tune, but also with various other isolated and unrelated sounds spit out along the way. About 2’10”.
V. A Well-Oiled Machine? - Some mechanical device – or everyday organizational analog – clanks along with various squeaks, thumps, and whirring sounds, running smoothly in some sections, but inefficiently in others. It quits abruptly and with little warning. It uses the same scale as “Slippery Slope.” About 1’55”.