Seattle Rainbow

Dee Dee Rainbow, of Seattle. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times.
Dee Dee Rainbow, of Seattle. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times.

Seattle Rainbow

Music composed by: Tim Tompkins  |  Introduction arranged by: Frances Tompkins
No lyrics: instrumental.


The Pacific Northwest band, Providence, flickered out in Seattle, 1973, but that period began on a high note at the home of a marvelous patron of the arts, artist, teacher and humanist: Dee Dee Rainbow. She invited the whole band, even the ladies and the equipment, to stay with her while we found a place of our own. She had an old piano in the basement that I played for hours, and a window with a view of the weather changes as they came sweeping in from Puget Sound. Raindrops became the notes of broken chords, and atmospheric upheavals became the hilly melodic horizon that propelled the vocal parts of the song from little hammers on the piano to the big outdoors. But the lyrics did not survive the years; they were too restrictive; they could not change their associations from one playing to the next as pure music can. The tonal colors of the wideband cello made a more interesting and enduring statement. What I heard now was more influenced by what I brought to the listening.

Frances greatly improved the piece with her piano introduction arrangement. Karen Andrei of Santa Cruz, California, wisely prodded me, during a single-topic lesson, to use the very high cello register sparingly, saying in essence that the cello sounds best in its characteristic 3.5-octave range, and if I want to compose extensively above that, I should give it to a viola or violin. A bit of easy editing resulted in a better melody, a better tone, and less difficulty. Yo-yo Ma didn’t get to appreciate that, since his office staff mailed me the package containing score and demo tape that I had handed him backstage sometime in the 1990’s following one of his fine concerts in San Jose many months before, but now including a short note citing his busy schedule and his concentration on larger works. This was understandable, and I took it as, “No more excuses, Tim, that someone else might play it better. Roll up your sleeves and be that someone else!”  [Tim]

Performance Credits:

Frances: Piano
Tim: Cello

Production Credits:

Ocean recorded by Tim at Moss Landing, California, with Frances and granddaughter Paris Lahman one Sunday morning before dawn.
Thanks to Karen Andrei in Santa Cruz, California, for coaching on the composition, not just the performance.
Dedicated to Dee Dee Rainbow at whose Seattle home the piece was born (1973).


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