I wrote Pitter Patter for my friend Jerry Kuderna, who premiered it at Old First Church in San Francisco on September 11, 2021. This piece was commissioned by Nicole Brancato and the Ross McKee Foundation as part of The Illustrated Pianist. I chose to write it after Ray Bradbury's short story The Long Rain, which takes place on the planet Venus. To propel the piece, I invented a segment from a BBC documentary featuring Sir David Attenborough. In the segment, Attenborough narrates “Here, we see a group of humans exploring the surface of the planet Venus. Beset by continual rain and hostile wildlife, this intrepid group must seek the shelter of a Sun Dome, or perish. They wear helmets to protect themselves against harshly acidic rainfall. Without the shelter of the Sun Dome, the incessant pitter patter of the rain against their helmets leads to eventual insanity. The incessant pitter patter of the rain. The incessant pitter patter of the rain. The incessant pitter patter of the rain.”
This piece draws inspiration from several sources: the first is an audio recording of my friend Maryse Carlin’s kitchen sink, the second is the children’s tune Itsy Bitsy Spider (which in the fast part borrows rhythms from a Turkish folk dance arranged by Cemal Reşit Rey), and the third is a rather cryptic quotation from the first movement of Schumann’s Gesänge der Frühe at the end when the sun comes out.
This piece was chosen as the required piece for the 2023 Ross McKee Piano Competition.