Saturday, April 15, 2006


Nice metaphorical picture from the Seward Highway, about a 1/2 hour south of Anchorage.

I once had a long discussion with the composer Lyle Davidson about my then current compositions. I wanted his feedback as to my compositional output. One thing I took away from that conversation was an appreciation for the idea of creating a space. Lyle was of the opinion that I needed to work harder at that, maybe because I do it well or maybe because I could do it well, I'm not quite sure. During that conversation we were sitting in a coffee shop and he pointed out a flock of pigeons that would spend all day flying back and forth between Symphony Hall, NEC and the Whole Foods Market. That cemented that conversation and my impression of a space, as I imagined the pigeons sense of space. Thinking back, I realize that I was projecting what I would think about that space if I were a pigeon and that image is a cornerstone of my 2 years at NEC. Lyle is very good at teaching, VERY GOOD, and this was one his lessons.

Today,I was driving to the post to retrieve some objects that were in the box and the song "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" happened to pop up on the cd player. As those opening chords bounced into my ears I was instantly transported into that ballads particular Space. Listening to this song I realized that Rufus hooks me with that little opening, in particular the keyboard sound. It is a simple triadic vamp, nothing interesting, but that particular keyboard sound is nostalgic and takes me to a place. As I listened to the song, I began to realize that there is a string accompaniment to his singing and the writing is pretty dull. The drums are decent, so are the guitars and vocal harmonies. All in all it is nice, but nothing that interesting and then it hit me. The way these things are layered and put together is what is key. The keyboard vamp, the vocal approach and harmonies, the voicings of the backing strings, the multiverse drum phrase length and the dynamic climaxs that spill over the phrase length; it is all just slightly askew from the how these sounds are typically deployed. Or atleast how I expect them to be deployed. Invention, Pozzi would remind me, is of the uptmost importance.

Having gone through all of that in the course of the song, I started to dwell on the concept of space.It is now apparent to me that in TphubonV I open by creating a space and once that is established I take the listener in to hear some different events. Then in snapshots and sofater my work progressively becomes more and more about one space and all of the subtlety and texture there-in. In these later two compositions I began to discover the depth and richness of focusing so intensely on one thing. This texture is solely composed of sounds, in snapshots. The space allows the audience to listen to the performers listen as well as listen to the composition unfold, as it is inherently new every time. In the score, I indicate the pitch material and the point of entry and departure, but the performers must reenact the acoustic beating that they hear and only a moment, as they are tasked with playing a sort of continuous loop of their observations. In listening to that piece I am always struck by my desire for more length when I reach the end of the composition.
Wow, the things you realize about your work. The Scrippian process of reflective discovery pops up again!


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