Los Caprichos

   Doubles piccolo, kazoo, whoopee cushion, chancla, and scratch pad
   Doubles bass clarinet, kazoo, chancla, and whoopee cushion
Alto saxophone
   Doubles baritone saxophone, kazoo, whoopee cushion, chancla, and scratch pad
Electric guitar
   FX pedals:
      Distortion, overdrive, reverb, chorus, delay, faders, octave doubler, e bow
   Doubles steel string acoustic, chancla, scratch pad, and whoopee cushion
   Doubles chancla, and whoopee cushion (x2)
   Doubles chancla
   Doubles chancla

Note On Doublings
Some movements of Los Caprichos require the use of found or toy percussion instruments.
These are:
    Chancla: a cheap, plastic flip flop infamous among the children of Latin America
   for its powerful sting when swung in anger by disappointed mothers. (Optional
   instead of clapping in no. 25).
    Whoopee cushion: these should be self-inflating. They may be substituted,
   where available, by a toy “fart blaster” like those manufactured based on the
   film Despicable Me.
    Scratch Pad: a hard surface scratched with a stylus to simulate loud, hard writing.
   A piece of sand paper and a nail are recommended.
    Kazzoo: your standard toy kazoo found at all fine distributors.

Performance Notes
Los Caprichos may be performed in several ways:
   1. It may be broken up into ten suites of equal length, assembled thematically by the performers,
   or purchased separately from the composer (write for inquiries). Each suite must begin with no. 1, [Frontispiece].
   Image projection is optional in this format.
   2. It may be performed in its entirety as an evening length piece of music. When performed in this  
   way, projections of Francisco de Goya’s original etchings must accompany the performance.
   High definition images of the original etchings are easily found online. Also, an intermission is
   recommended between number 43. El sueño de la razán, and no. 44. Hilan delgado.
   3. It may be performed as a theatrical piece. An improvisational pantomime by Daniuel Neer and Becca Ordman
   is being created. Details on this version may be obtained from the composer, or from Arcturus. Staged performances
   must be titled Goya’s Los Caprichos.

Francisco de Goya published his collection of 80 etchings titled, Los Caprichos (“Caprices”) in 1799 after a long and difficult illness that left him nearly totally deaf. During his illness he read voraciously from philosophy and social criticism, and emerged a changed man. This was a bad move, as he was the official painter for the Spanish court.
Los Caprichos is, on the surface, a work about witches, goblins, demons, priests, the rich, the poor, hypocrites and the honest people they exploit. It is a glaring critique of Spanish mores in the 18th century and got Goya nearly hanged by the Inquisition, had not the King of Spain bailed him out by buying the entire run of Los Caprichos and issuing a blanket pardon, no harm no foul. While some of the specifics of the critiques (Goya “named names”, as it were, by representing actual people, including a royal courtier with whom he may or may
not have had an affair!) are of interest primarily to scholars these days, the themes of Los Caprichos still resonate in contemporary Western society in the first quarter of the 21st century.
The first Caprichos in my series were written around 2010 for the Amsterdam based ensemble, Hexnut. That set consisted of no.s 1, 3, 4, 34, 43, 49, 71, and 80 for an amplified ensemble of recorder, flute, flugelhorn and piano. I later arranged these for the combination in this collection as an “American version” performable by my ensemble, Great Noise Ensemble. As I did this, being ever ambitious, I developed the notion of setting all 80 Caprichos but believed it to be impractical until, in 2014, my friend and partner in crime, Katherine Ravenwood (to
whom the work is dedicated), suggested that this was a good idea. As she was, at the time, Great Noise’s managing director, whose job is to keep this romantic dreamer in line, I took this as a sign to go ahead with the project. Los Caprichos, while performable in many ways, ultimately is a complete work. It engages Goya’s originals (and, whenever possible, should be accompanied by Goya’s originals in projection) as themselves, but is also meant as a commentary on our own society, especially that of the United States in 2018, a time where superstition,
hypocrisy, exploitation bordering on class warfare, environmental degradation, the rise of neo-fascist elements in the political mainstream, and other ills threaten us all. This is never done overtly, however. One of the things that attracted me to Goya’s work, besides its amazing weirdness, is his clever use of symbolism and intertextuality to drive home his point. I have tried to utilize these techniques in the music, as much as possible, but I leave it to you, the audience, to determine the field of musical references and draw meaning from them as
they arise. There are many, and they come from many sources.
Los Caprichos was written over a long period, from 2010 to 2018. This period brought a lot of changes in my personal and professional life, which seems strangely appropriate given that Goya’s Los Caprichos came from a time of upheaval in that artist’s personal and professional life. It was written in many places, and completed in November, 2018 at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
I am extremely grateful to the MacDowell Colony and its trustees for the opportunity to take a lengthy period of time to devote solely to completing this work. I am also indebted to Margeau Martine, the late Ross Heath and  the Arcturus Theater Company, who first suggested and began developing the theatrical version, Goya’s Los Caprichos,
which forms one important version of this work. I am also indebted to Daniel Neer and Becca Ordman, who have taken over stewarship of the theatrical aspects of the work, and toNed McGowan, director of Hexnut, who commissioned the original eight Caprichos premiered in Amsterdam in 2011.
Finally, I am indebted to Katie Ravenwood, my sister from another mother, whose encouragement led me down
this path. This whole mess is her fault.