Bump was completed in Baltimore on January 22, 1985. Commissioned by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra through a fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, it functions both as the final movement of the triptych Phantasmata and as a separately performable work in its own right.
My original concept of Bump was akin to "La Valse meets Studio 54," but as it was ultimately to possess neither waltz nor disco elements, I chose to fashion it as a "nightmare konga." Accurately speaking it is not a konga at all, in that the konga's characteristic accent on the third beat's fourth sixteenth is here displaced squarely to the fourth beat. Each fourth beat throughout the music is played by the bass drum (the climactic coda is in double time), and this serves not only to furnish the work's title (which refers to dance floor bumping with the hips or buttocks) but also to lend the music a sense of oppressive obsessiveness. Though the score abounds with jazzy syncopations and "big band" brass writing, its harsher harmony and sinister mood act to keep the piece within the larger context of Phantasmata.
Bump is dedicated with sincere admiration and friendship to Leonard Slatkin.
© 1985 by Christopher Rouse
These program notes can be reproduced free of charge with the following credit:
Reprinted by kind permission of Christopher Rouse