frank stemper

Lumpy the Skeleton (and his friends)  (2003, 2012)

Computer Created Sounds, 5.1 Digital Playback


LUMPY began as a demonstration during a lecture for a beginning class in composition at the university.  For that beginning class, I would assign 1-3 week composition projects based on a set of musical parameters that dealt with particular composition techniques (of harmony, rhythm, phrasing, orchestration, etc.).  After making the assignment, I would explain the parameters and then demonstrate them by beginning a composition LIVE before the students, that is unprepared.  It was great fun for me, and I think it helped the students to see immediately what the heck I had just been talking about – putting it right into music.  Normally, I would just write the demo comp on the blackboard and erase it after the class was over, although sometimes I’d then go back to my office and quickly write it down, just in case….  There were actually some good that came out of that class – which I taught every single semester for 32 years — but only one actually became a finished piece.  Good old LUMPY the SKELETON!  And of course the parameters that were utilized when LUMPY was used as a demo comp were getting the students to compose using synthetic sounds, created directly on a computer, sometimes with a synthesizer.  That was the week that my beginning students were allowed to start working in the Center for Experimental Music, a room full of electronic noise makers, beginning with a Moog through various processors, and then onto the computer.  I had fun working on Lumpy over the next week, and even played it for the students at the next class. 

I never did really take LUMPY seriously or finish it back in 2003.  However, in 2012, the music department was planning to put together our annual Halloween Pops concert – a high charged program of crazy music and costumes by all the students and faculty.  I thought about LUMPY.  I gave the piece that name, because it sounded to me like a skeleton dancing around.  And so I revised and finished the old LUMPY, creating something that I hope would scare a few people.  At the performance, all the lights in the concert hall went out coordinated with the first sound of LUMPY – a loud cannon in Surround sound.   So imagine listening to this in the dark. 

Or just close your eyes.

Jan 17, 2018

  • Lumpy the Skeleton (and His Friends)6:14