Monday, January 29, 2007

A Composition Journal, Part 2

January 12. 2007

Woke up late after 9 hours (!!) of sleep. Gray morning. Coffee, read a few poems by Tu Fu.... Read them again.
To work on "Captured Light." My mission today is to paint in sound the color field I see as Gold/bright green. This entails taking a section of yesterday's work, cutting it, then re-harmonizing it in the program Acid. (I have tuned it 21 half-steps up.) Then cutting again to size and proportion, laying it in so that it fills the right time/space within the piece. I'm quite sure I've never worked so visually before; but it seems appropriate, given the inspiration for the piece. Like stepping back from a canvas, I listen. Make changes. Step back. listen again.

January 13

This morning's work: simply listening.
Gray, warm-ish but raw outside. Like April again.

January 14

Deep sleep. Up at 7. Snow falling; big, pretty flakes in gray dark morning.
Coffee, reading in Tu Fu. Sadness in these words; an autumnal chill of aging, regret.
Work on "Freedom of Captured Light." Recorded a shimmering pulse of metallophone for the color-field White-gold; after that, a steel guitar melody arcing to a Major 7th as its highest tone: A yearning, sweeping arc of bright blue (from mountain tops to sky.)
Next, hours of layering, moving, removing, mixing.
Snow falling.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Composition Journal, Part 1

For the past few weeks I've been working on a long composition, one that was, it seems, presaged by the arrival of the poem in my previous entry. For a while I'll devote this weblog to my journals about the creation of this work. I've never before kept a detailed daily journal of progress--from inspiration to implementation-- on a particular piece of music, so I'm finding this interesting.

January 9, 2007
Up at 6:30, reading the knife-sharp poems of Li Po-- David Hinton's remarkable translations in MOUNTAIN HOME: THE WILDERNESS POEMS OF ANCIENT CHINA ( New Directions).
Sun rise on snow-white mountains flamed with reddish gold; I watched, drank coffee.
A short run with the dog; cold, crisp morning with an April-like wind out of SE. Amazing striations/layers of color and shadow in the view across to the Worcester Range.

January 10
Up in the dark. Li Po resonance of words again: rich in peaceful shock of image, sound.
Thnking this morning, deeply, about color-field, landscape ... (that, really, landscape/shape alone is not what intrigues me, but rather the way light and sound act to shape it-- how paint and words and composition can be analog to that exchange -- and beyond that: how that exchange is a sign of Spirit's true existence.)
So, once again: sky, Luminism; Fitz Hugh Lane.
I'm imagining a long piece of music --1 hour?--of tone-fields as color, shape. (see the mountain drawing in yesterday's journal) Layers of tone (table organ, lap steel, bells) in reverberant space. Stacking, shifting, create a sonic view. Such a piece perhaps best made over a long period of time-- weeks? months?....

January 11
Dark gives way to violet, within that, a perfect half moon. Coffee, and reading Tu Fu. These poems are structured, striated, with a more complex diction than the earlier wilderness poets, perhaps.

Last night I had set up microphone, table organ, yamaha reverb, Lexicon jam man. Now, this morning, with view of mountains flaming from salmon to violet pink then cooling to violet and, finally, snow white, I record a quiet piece: letting notes from the table organ rise and fall and layer within the reverb and delay. This will be the first stratum of the sonic view I intend to work on this winter.
Ths morning's work, relating back to the drawing-- which has become, it seems, the score for this piece-- is the gray, dark pine-colored "ground": the lower part of the canvas, of the view.
(Minor triad tonality (D # minor) with pentatonic scale tones rising and falling: shadow patterns.)

Monday, January 15, 2007


Prepare the bell for
sounding: Cast the metal
(bronze? for belief...)

Its very nature is
the truth of its

And then there is
the winter sky:
Ah, I can't describe it.

But it calls
and dark birds take
flight, desiring

that brightness. The
sounding distance
arrives, wings mended new

by that far, fresh

-Kevin Macneil Brown

This poem turns out to be preamble to some music I'm at work on now.