My “revisited” series takes a look at some of my older pieces. I often revise pieces or use elements in new pieces, so it’s fun for me to look back. I also write these posts to show some of my creative process to new composers.
This summer I did some light clean-up and quietly re-released my piano album Late Frost.
I originally wrote these pieces in 2007-8, starting in Atlanta and continuing while living in Belfast. It started as a bit of a diversion. During my master’s degree at Georgia State University, I composed primarily twelve-tone music in a modernist style. For this project, I wanted to write something minimalist and tonal.
Another caveat with the pieces was to start with a simple idea, slowly develop it, and “write myself into a corner.” Sometimes I was able to get back around to the initial idea, and sometimes I made a hard change.
In “Autumnal,” I kept the underlying rhythm going throughout. The “inner voice” of F-F-G continues, but eventually becomes the roots of the chords.
In “Snow Drifts,” much of the piece is based on an 5/8 ostinato in the right hand and a Dorian pattern (d minor, G major). In the middle I start stripping away notes out of the ostinato, leaving only the highest and lowest notes. I then switch to 2/4 and start moving those right hand notes into a more scalar melody.
The title track is a sparse ballad rather than a rhythmic minimalist piece like the rest.
Recording & original release
I recorded the original 8 tracks over a couple late night sessions in the Harty Room at Queen’s University Belfast, with the engineering help of Ezequiel Borges. I originally released this in 2009, on CD-R (remember those?). I put it on CD Baby, so it’s still floating around on some websites.
Some parts of this project always bugged me. A couple tracks–”By the Fire” and “Vernal”–didn’t really work for me after awhile. And my performance throughout was shaky. So this year I decided to re-release the collection, but skip three tracks. I also did a little bit of editing (cutting out a whole section of “Boulders,” and subbing in a few better takes on some other tracks).
I remixed the piece “A Cave” with some extra electronics, which was released a few years back. I’d like to add some light electronic treatments to the other pieces eventually as well. My overall goal is to eventually perform live again, with a focus on piano, toy piano, and electronics. Knowing me, that will be in a few more years…