This past November, I held an artist residency at Maine’s Acadia National Park, where I lived for a few weeks on the park’s Schoodic Peninsula and wrote a three-movement work inspired by the park’s geography.
I’d originally intended to write music based upon some field recordings that I’d collect along the park’s shorelines and mountaintops, but found upon my arrival that the device I normally use to make such recordings was broken. This did seem at first to be a pretty annoying setback, but — amazingly — soon turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise. Instead of using the actual sounds I was hearing, I decided instead to focus on the patterns I observed that seemed significant to me and then try and translate those into musical sound.
The result, I think, rings truer as an expression of place than the field recordings might have. The mp3 above is a recording of the first movement of the piece I ultimately wrote: the whole thing is called Wind Over Water, and this opening section, “Ebb,” is written for accordion, trombone, and piano. It’s based on watching the patterns of waves coming up against the rocky shorelines that characterize so much of Acadia’s landscape — the waves come evenly, but hit the irregular surface and scatter into patterns that are complex and chaotic but still regular. I tried imitating that both rhythmically and harmonically here — over the course of the piece, the chords and pulses blend into each other and become a bigger thing, then fall apart again.
I’m heading out into the frigid north for my Midwestern “spring” tour (see previous post) tomorrow — hope to see you out there! And don’t forget Field Studies is still available here (and you can listen to samples here).