Listening is a project in the early stages of development. It will become a collection of contemplative solo piano pieces.
I want the music to represent the kind I play when I'm all along at my piano. If it is my last musical chapter, I want it to express the most important aspect of music: listening. As such, it is dedicated to every composer and player I have had the good fortune of hearing - and every person who has touched me in my life.
Photo on album cover taken by John Shyloski, Factory Underground Studios.
Additional titles I'm considering for this project:Sisyphus and the Voices of Falling Stones
This Goldberg-esque variation of Tide Pools borrows from Impressionism, evoking a sense of undertow. The middle whole-tone arpeggio section represents the moment in which the undertow asserts itself.
Finding time as it emerges from the interaction between musical quanta.
Conjuring the goddess of the night.
Full of falling stars, lullaby motifs, comet tails, and the kind of reveries only nighttime reflection can conjure.
The gentle post-bop chord progression combines the restless/purposeful movement of New Englanders with the seasonal grace of New England's natural surroundings. My homage to my new home.
Autumn - the season, the stage of life, the state of cleared mind and reverie - is my favorite time of year. I hope this piece expresses my abiding adoration for Autumn's ever-changing plumage, it's sense of exuberant quiet and restful vigor. There is no more inspiring place than the Appalachian Mountains in Autumn.
This solo piano piece has been used several times as background for documentaries, once for PBS. There is a moment in one of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (Douglas Adams) books when the hero kisses his love and they, without realizing it, float up into the air. I was thinking of that moment when I sat down to play.
Simple music isn't something I record very often, even though I play this sort of healing, peaful music often when alone at my piano.
The "Air on the G String" was one of the first Bach works ever recorded, in 1902, and remains one of his most famous melodies. I can still recall the first time I heard Bach's Orchestral Suite #3. The 2nd movement "Air" left me breathless. Such grace and beauty. I hope you sense my own humility and wonder as you explore these variations.
A berceuse is a ‘cradle song,’ or lullaby, written for the piano. The hypnotic two chord minimalist structure portends the music of Erik Satie.
Chopin’s Études and Préludes are perhaps his greatest contribution to the development of music. But it is his Nocturnes that best illustrate his romantic sensitivity. For me, they represent his most effortless and essential music.
I thought it fitting to place Chopin’s Prelude No. 20, “Funeral March,” as an introduction to this wonderful posthumous Nocturne published 26 years after his death. The piece was famously played by Holocaust survivor Natalia Karp for the Nazi concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth, with Goeth being so impressed with the rendition that he spared Karp's life.
Pavane pour une infante défunte (Dance for a Dead Princess) was written by the French composer Maurice Ravel in 1899 when he was studying composition at the Conservatoire de Paris under Gabriel Fauré. I have always interpreted it as a lullaby. The inserted middle section represents a dream sequence I imagine playing inside the surviving mother's mind as she recalls her lost child. The fallen final note was added to signal that the lullaby is over and real life has, again, intruded.
This is a dreamy, haunting rendition of one of the sweetest soliloquy songs ever written. I use a mixture of reversed and bowed piano, framed by synth and piano continuum, in the extended introduction to present the hopeful yet chimerical context. The main body of the piece is my modal interpretation of the song, plainly played. The short coda leaves the question in the air, unresolved, as the original song surely did.
This is where liner notes will go to explain arrangement, history, etc.
As in most of these arrangements, I recorded this piece first on piano and then layered on electronic and acoustic augmentations. Two electronic pianos (Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes) double with the acoustic piano to create a resonant keyboard sound. EXS modules provide the other embellishments. A few carefully placed bowed piano strings round out the additions. In the end, there's nothing like summertime to bring one out of a blue reverie.