Alex Temple (she/her)
title: Ah yes, the three genders
instrumentation: standard vibraphone and percussion (two players)
duration: 11 minutes
written: 2019, r. 2020
“Ah yes, the three genders.” The meme started as a joking response to things like a trio of airport signs labeled “Men,” “Women” and “Telephones,” or an application form whose options are “Male,” “Female” and “Business.” Over time, it was extended to refer to any group of three things. In this case, the three genders are metal, wood, and skin — the three materials that pair with the vibraphone in the piece’s three movements. The title is also a playful nod to my and the performers’ queerness.
“Metal” (featuring cymbals, bells, and chains) consists of three versions of the same tune, in three wildly different styles: haunted music-box lullaby, chill-out jazz, and Very Fake Early Music. “Wood” (featuring woodblocks and shakers) is a perpetuum mobile with a habit of getting stuck. “Skin” (featuring drums and mouth sounds) is the longest and maybe the strangest, with dissonant, sensuous chords that keep getting diverted into blurry polyphony or staggering polyrhythms.
Ah yes, the three genders was commissioned by Spectrum Ensemble and the following consortium members: Brian Calhoon, Scott Charvet & Elayne Harris, Emily Durocher, Beth Gunderia, Carla Lackey, Modern Marimba, Kathleen Rieken, Julie Taber, the Up:Strike Project (directed by Dr. Matthew Lau & Karen Yu), and Gloria Yehilevsky.