OH THEM RATS IS MEAN IN MY KITCHEN
for Violin Duo
II. Them Rats
III. Is Mean
IV. In My Kitchen
Oh Them Rats Is Mean In My Kitchen was composed as a gift for Michelle Makarski and Ronald Copes in 1985 while I was living in Brazil on a Fulbright grant. One of the chief results of that stay abroad was a sharpening of my awareness of those elements in my musical thought that are distinctly American and reflect my experience as a listener in this culture. I found myself prompted to compose a scherzo-fantasy in homage to early blues, transforming its characteristic wailing and energetic speech-song into the seemingly incongruous medium of the violin duo. The title is the first line of Blind Lemon Jefferson's Maltese Cat Blues, although I first became aware of it in a version sung by Tennessee blues singer Sleepy John Estes. In addition to suggesting some of the more pictorial writing of the third movement, the line also provides the rhythmic basis for an important motif in the final movement.