Kuta Muela (Old Stick) is based on a Yaqui Native American tune of the same name. The form of the original tune inspired the overall form of the work, which is as follows: seven drum beats, followed by a section performed by drums, rattles and an extended flute tune based on three notes (F-sharp, G-sharp, A-sharp), ending with a short stanza of singing "Kuta Muela" based on B-flat. What is so attractive is the beautiful and stunning transition--the flute ceases while the drums and rattles carry on to reveal clear singing in the background.
for Bassoon, Flute, Piano and Percussion
My work is also in three main sections: an introduction, a series of variations ending in a bassoon cadenza, followed by a third extended section. The first two sections is a projection and amplification the opening 7-note drum beats heard in the original tune. The last main section presents, most directly, the second and third sections of the original, directly and intact.
Several elements help to unify the work: the number 7, prime numbers in general, and a 7-note set that is a combination of the 3-note flute solo plus the 5-note pentachord heard in the singing section. All pitch classes come from this prime set, transformed and altered by combining transpositions with the complement of the original.
As with versions I & II, this last version does not incorporate an electronic tape part. Instead, many of the materials found in the tape have been transferred to the acoustic instruments and expanded, or brought back to life.
Kuta Muela was commissioned by Jeff Lyman with a grant from Arizona State University, where he premiered it on October 20, 2001. Kuta Muela II was performed August 9, 2002 in Banff, Canada. This current version was performed at ASU February 27, 2003. The accompanying video, Huya Ania (The Wilderness World), was produced by Sheilah Britton.