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Old MacDonald's yellow submarine : for toy piano, prepared piano and assorted bits

by Erik Griswold (2004)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

Performance by Margaret Leng Tan from the CD Works by Erik Griswold, Diana Blom, Mark Isaacs, Anthony Moles, Ros Bandt [and] Judy Bailey

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One / Claire Edwardes.

Library shelf no. CD 2471 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

Old MacDonald's Yellow Submarine is an exploration of sounds with which I've been fascinated since childhood. Its varied sections range from nostalgic and wistful to playful and cheeky, drawing on influences as diverse as John Cage and John Lee Hooker.

Old Mac comprises six movements - On that farm, e-i-e-i-o, Pink Memories, Chooks! (Australian for "chickens"), Bicycle Lee Hooker, and Old MacDonald's Yellow Submarine - each using a different combination of instruments, including prepared piano, toy piano, wood blocks, and miniature music boxes. Knowing the skill and dedication of Margaret Leng Tan, I pushed the limits of toy instrumental virtuosity by asking her to coordinate a bicycle bell, bicycle horn, train whistle, and toy piano in Bicycle Lee Hooker, a right brain-left brain extravaganza.

I arrived at the title of the suite, a conjunction of Old MacDonald had a farm and Yellow Submarine, when I took the tines (or melody) of one music box and crossed them with the barrel (or rhythm) of another to produce the surprising hybrids heard in the sixth movement. (The third movement similarly combines the pitches of The Pink Panther with the rhythm of Memories).

Work Details

Year: 2004

Instrumentation: Soloist playing prepared piano, toy piano and percussion.

Duration: 16 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: On that farm - E-i-e-i-o -- Pink memories -- Chooks! -- Bicycle Lee Hooker -- Old Macdonald's yellow submarine.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Margaret Leng Tan

Commission note: Commissioned for Margaret Leng Tan with funds provided by Australia Council. Music Board.

First performance: by Margaret Leng Tan — 13 Mar 15. San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

Selected as one of the 'Recommended Works' at the 2010 International Rostrum of Composers forum held in Lisbon.

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2010 International Rostrum of Composers Rcommended work Erik Griswold for performance on 15 Aug 09

Performances of this work

31 Aug 2019: at Extended Play (City Recital Hall). Featuring Margaret Leng Tan.

13 Mar 15: San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Featuring Margaret Leng Tan.

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