I spent a week in Montana this summer, and while I was there I took several field recordings of rivers and rain and cows and all sorts of fun stuff (most of which are over on AudioAtlas). I was hoping to use several of those recordings on a piece called “Introspection”, but as I worked with the material a slightly different narrative emerged. This piece (audio and notes below) is exciting for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's the first “real” piece of acousmatic music I've written since 2012's Blueprints of Eternity (amazing how much other music you don't get written when you're writing a dissertation). Secondly, it's the first piece of mine to have a program note written by Walter Jordan. Walter and Steven and I had a creativity pact for the month of November, where Walter would write a novel, Steven would complete an album, and I would finish writing this acousmatic piece. So here's my music and Walter's words
Reverie of Solitude
Utilizing recordings from Montana and Central Oklahoma, the piece serves as both an exploration of and an invitation to reverie; providing a space wherein the listener is asked to reconsider their idea of what it means to daydream. Immediately, the listener is isolated amid an every-day crowd hum—pervasive and vexingly indistinct. Lost among the multitude, it is easy to believe that this daydream is not an expression of solitude, but rather a longing for solitude.
From this foundation, the piece conducts its consideration through alternating themes of action and inaction, order and disorder. The buzz of the crowd—unmetered, churning—gives way to the steady pulse of a passing train: the mind swiftly carried away. The movement of a mind imagining is suggested by a motif of water in each transition. Having raced away, the focus of the piece coils about a scene of Sunday-lawn tranquility with the stagnant and predictable arc of a sprinkler. It dissolves into the free rhythm of a rainstorm on a tin roof, evoking a true sense of solitude. The chaotic throb of the rain shower becomes the pulse of a frothing river as the mind races on again, an echo of the train beneath. As the piece nears its conclusion, the listener is introduced to the most complete soundscape yet: birdsong and footsteps as counterpoint to the steady but untamed lapping of water against the hull of a boat.
Each vignette is a self-contained narrative offering a unique opportunity to consider solitude in a natural context. As each image fades, replaced by another commensurate in theme though separated in space, the listener is invited to reflect on the purpose of a daydream: whether to occupy a static moment, to escape a blunt reality, or to enrich the experience of a perfect moment. The subtle transitions between the natural recordings are woven throughout by digitally manipulated tones, calling the listener’s attention to how they themselves have been lulled to daydreaming amid the sonic backdrop. Attention is inevitably returned to the churning crowd, bookending the piece to demonstrate the facility of such reveries in establishing a personal solitude for each listener, undiminished by having shared the experience with an audience.
Program Note by Walter Jordan
Please credit Walter Jordan when using this program note