equalizing

So I’ll now take a deep breath and post the first edi­ble fruit of my labor.  The per­for­mance is of course imper­fect, since I’m not an actu­al pianist, and the piece should also be con­sid­ered a draft, as there are places where it still needs edit­ing.  But I do hope it man­ages to cross the thresh­old into music.

  1. Equal­iz­ing I (Tone pat­tern)
  2. Sec­ond phas­es
  3. Equal­iz­ing II (Clock­work)
  4. Night train
  5. Equal­iz­ing III (Indone­sia)

OK, some lin­er notes.

Equal­iz­ing is in five move­ments, where the first, third and fifth are vari­a­tions I, II and III on a cen­tral idea, while the sec­ond and fourth are inter­ludes.

The ascend­ing octave tone pat­tern in the vari­a­tions is some­thing from child­hood.  It was an ana­log equal­iz­er, one of our pieces of stereo equip­ment, which when put in tone gen­er­a­tor mode would light up the slid­ers in sequence while play­ing the pro­gres­sion of octaves, from a bass you felt in your stom­ach to an inaudi­ble dog-whis­tle.  Some­times when we’re young we become obsessed with appar­ent­ly triv­ial sen­sa­tions— I remem­ber watch­ing our kids at the beach very slow­ly drib­bling sand through their fin­gers for hours.  I’m not sure exact­ly what’s going on dur­ing these long unprompt­ed med­i­ta­tions which would try the patience of a Zen monk, maybe it’s sig­nif­i­cant, maybe not.  But I cer­tain­ly remem­ber many of those times.  I remem­ber the sense of flow, the engage­ment of all of the sens­es at once even when the input was pure­ly visu­al, or pure­ly audi­to­ry.  And I remem­ber the lim­bic pow­er of those inten­si­ties, the dis­em­bod­ied yet pri­ma­ry-col­ored emo­tion, hyp­not­ic and unreg­u­lat­ed.  Even the echo of that is a trea­sure.

Yes, I know I made over­much use of the sus­tain ped­al.

Con­nois­seurs of the WPRB school will notice the influ­ences of John Fahey and Guy Klucevsek, as well as Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt.  Like the last two, I’ve tried to build around a stripped-down har­mon­ic arma­ture (though I haven’t been as rig­or­ous about stick­ing to it as those sages).  This feels con­sis­tent with the octave tone pat­tern at the core of Equal­iz­ing, which on the one hand is triv­ial in that it lacks any har­mon­ic struc­ture at all.  On the oth­er hand, con­tain­ing noth­ing but pow­ers of two, it’s nei­ther major nor minor, but hov­ers behind and above this pass­ing weath­er in a kind of mathy space beyond sad or hap­py.  Is it just me, or is this naked pre­cur­sor to tonal­i­ty already thrum­ming with feel­ing?

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