• Julius Eastman
  • Evil Nigger (1979)

  • Music Sales Corporation (World)

Wise Music/G. Schirmer is the source for performance materials of works by Julius Eastman. In the event performance material is unavailable, apply for a license to prepare a transcription or arrangement.
Unavailable for performance.

  • for any number of similar instruments, most commonly 4 pianos
  • 21 min 30 s

Programme Note

Julius Eastman's Evil Nigger (1979) was premiered on four pianos in January 1980 at Northwestern University with Eastman playing and guiding the performance. Although usually performed on four pianos, Evil Nigger can be played on any number of similar instruments, which on melody instruments would be seventeen. It opens at a blistering pace with a simple downward melodic figure that is repeated throughout the piece. There is also a continuo-like figure played in the bass that occurs throughout, which acts as a 'meeting place' at times, its entry counted off for a unison entry, as in pop music.
 
The initial melody and continuo figure are fairly tonal, in a minor key, until about midpoint, played against repeated strings of consonant and dissonant notes. At the midpoint of the piece, the melody is heard in all keys, creating clouds of sound, and then it thins out, beginning to slow down, with the melody and continuo figures appearing less frequently, until about three quarters of the way, long sustained pitches appear, as confrontational and unexpected as the title would have led you to believe the whole piece would be like. And then the sounds become untethered, longer and sparser, like balloons released into the air &mdah; they float off into the distance until they can no longer be heard.
 
— Mary Jane Leach
 

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