As I’ve been thinking about performing some poetry, I’ve also been thinking about engagement with audiences, which naturally led me to thinking about composition. I wrote a short piece called “a prayer for a people” in raag Janasammohini for “audience and spoken word performer” that asks the audience to sing a brief passage in Hindustani solfege under (or over!) a spoken piece. I aimed to enhance the experience of conversation via performance; I ask the audience to sing something to me while I recite a poem, which in turn asks the audience to imagine something aurally with me. Ultimately, we paint the scene together and for each other.
I’m hoping this goes well!
‘biking’ features my bike ride down and walk along the Saddle River County Park trail for about two miles.
It was interesting to record myself with the awareness that I would use the recording as a piece. I had initially begun to record along one of the walking paths among the trees, finding myself brushing up against certain plants and waiting for the wind to pass. Eventually I conceded that for the collection ‘animals,’ I had to admit that whatever sounds I produced by whichever choices I made would inherently be ‘animal.’ I then recorded my ride back home, letting myself linger by a waterfall and at my favorite sandbar, attacking a frozen pond with stones, and listening to the odd, surreal sounds of ice shards sliding rapidly across the frozen pond and echoing through the depths of the water.
The only edits I made were to remove white noise caused by jostling the microphone.
I decided to post my Christmas Suite and the re-rendered Suite for Saturn on Soundcloud – enjoy!
I’ve finished working on my suite for this Christmas! It was a lot of fun to write, and I can certainly see the growth of my skills as a composer and the development of my voice. The movements are as follow:
I. Village lights on the snow, underfoot
II. Flurries in mid-afternoon
III. Walking home with them past the church tower
IV. Diamond dust clouds at midnight Mass
V. A morning sled on Christmas day
VI. Watching the village from the hillside, on the way home
“A CHRISTMAS SUITE for a NEW ENGLAND VILLAGE is a six-part suite featuring the different times of day leading up to and during Christmas – dawn, afternoon, dusk, midnight, late morning, and dusk again – set in little village of New England.
The first movement opens with a contemplative walk through the snow as one returns home from work on the edge of town. The second reflects the chaos of children, finally free from school, playing in the flurries; the third, a more solemn trudge past the church tower as two people listen to the bells echoing through town.
The fourth song takes us within the church for midnight Mass, a great and ponderous time for the villagers. On Christmas day is a classic sled in the morning for the village children for the fifth movement. The suite closes with another walk on the outskirts of the village – a final contemplation of the holiday time and its many faces.”
I’ve set it to release on Bandcamp with a better rendering of Suite for Saturn just to have it somewhere other than Soundcloud, since it was made specifically as a gift to friends and family and not for public sharing. It’ll be available here in about a week!
Edit: you can find the audio here!
[ETA: I removed these tracks from SoundCloud – listen to the new rendering here]
I composed SUITE for SATURN using motives derived from global maps of the three moons of Saturn – Iapetus, Rhea, and Dione – I looked at in my research project for the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the SETI Institute this summer. The latitudes of the craters were used to determine pitch, while longitudes determined note duration and beat.
The suite begins with a prelude and fugue for Iapetus in 7/4, which establish the modes for the piece as a whole. An adagio assai in 5/4 for Rhea follows, with an energetic finale “Train of Dione.” The suite closes with a reiteration of the prelude entitled “Farewell, all,” which incorporates figures from Rhea and Dione and ends in a new key.
This is my first “completed” multi-movement piece.