Popcopy is a work in three movements that is inspired by famous catchphrases. The work’s title in itself is also a catchphrase from a Dave Chappelle skit that deals with a local copy center, to which every composer can relate. The first movement, “More Cowbell!”, is based on the popular “Saturday Night Live” skit featuring Will Ferrell as a fictional cowbell player for the band Blue Öyster Cult. Ferrell’s character, Gene Frenkle, fervently tells the band that since there are no songs that feature the cowbell, he would be doing a disservice to himself and the band if he didn’t “play the hell out of this” cowbell. The producer then coins the famous phrase: “Guess what?! I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is… more cowbell!” In this movement, four cowbell parts surround the band to emulate the struggle of balance between the band and the cowbells, but the cowbells also help in keeping the band together during complex rhythmic sections.
The second movement, “One Time at Band Camp,” is a catchphrase from the movie American Pie. The character Michelle Flaherty is an eccentric nerd who tells many annoying stories about her experiences at band camp. The character in the movie plays the flute, so a flute soloist is featured. This movement portrays reminiscences of summer love found and lost.
“Serenity Now” is inspired by an episode from the final season of “Seinfeld.” George’s father, Frank Costanza, is advised to say “serenity now” aloud every time his blood pressure is in danger. Instead of calmly saying the phrase, Frank yells it each time. The character Kramer also uses this catchphrase, but when he finally has a mental meltdown, he discovers that saying this phrase only makes things worse. Like the episode itself, the music deals with the line between sanity and insanity with at least four other story lines going on at the same time. There are multiple band quotes scattered in the music (shrouded tributes to Holst, Hindemith, and Sousa), aleatoric and non-metered sections, and a schizophrenic form to this final movement.