Friday, June 13, 2008

Music from My Mother's Piano 2

Yesterday I edited a few more improv pieces together from recent recording sessions with my mother's piano. The day was full of storms, heavy rain, lightning and thunder in waves, well into the night. The old house is now basically empty, except for the last round of cleaning. The piano sits alone in the large living room. The room's acoustics have changed without all the soft couches and chairs in it to absorb sound; it now has a much more live sound. In between all the severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings, I was drawn to more abstract and atonal ideas that I had played.

When you record it doesn't always seem like genuine music: you're experimenting, you're trying an idea out, you're testing the limits of your technical ability to play what you hear in your head. So it's often a pleasant surprise that improvs that seemed tentative, in the moment, can come to seem like coherent compositions, upon later review.


she disappeared between the gypsum trees

celestial road

I felt the mood of some of these pieces, when I was editing them—perhaps this was my mood anyway, and I was merely projecting it onto the music—to be wistful, bordering on sorrow, but never dramatized. There are images that emerge for me of celestial landscapes, of a loved one disappearing into the night mist, of missing them, but also of being aware of the immensity of the cosmos into which they've faded.

celestial road is assembled from two different one-minute improvs, heavily processed, then layered together. It's both modal and abstract. I got the sense of complementary voices, one very staid and moving forward implacably, the other very light and crystalline. I sometimes wonder if the stars don't sing like this. The effect created, for me, the feeling I get when I listen to some of Olivier Messiaen's more celestial compositions.

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