piano 1


This piece is an anguishing missed opportunity to me. It began as a new start, but ended in inertia.
I always learn about my compositional process the hard way.

Let's look at this through three lenses:

I was at this amazing summer program in Turkey. I could not believe the fact that the lifestyle here existed; it was paradise, a place with life and fire such as I've never seen before.
As is still the case, I knew I did my best work when it was opposing something. That rebellious joy is what has ignited me more than anything else, the spark of not doing what you're supposed to.

So, instead of going to the masterclasses, I wrote music. For whatever reason, this piece was pouring out of me, an amazing concept - starting at the very top of the piano and working our way down phrase by phrase, changing harmony and texture at each stop. I wrote until I couldn't anymore over a period of a couple days, but there was something saying to keep going even then. Eventually I had to leave.

Back home in Memphis, I hit my customary writers' block (2011 was a tough year), and ended up trying 25 drafts, hating them all, until finally Kamran my teacher told me to just put an ending on it and move on. It remains a tantalizing picture of a missed opportunity.

Beginning in 2010 was a period where I kept running in to this resistance that kept me from finishing many very good instrumental works. After moving to New York, I realized it was my life putting me on hold to learn a series of lessons, finally culminating in a very dramatic and genuine exit from the University of Memphis (walking out on exam day saying I wanted to drop out). If that had never happened, I never would have discovered musical theater writing. Life would have been completely different.

In looking back at this, I'm finally realizing something my mentor Daniel Lentz has said - 'if your music doesn't sound like the place you are living, you're doing something wrong.'
I didn't realize that my inner senses were transmitting something unique to the Turkish ecosystem. There is no way I could have finished that piece anywhere except in Turkey. As this sense has developed, it's become clear - creation is highly local. Just like produce, every artist's voice is going to respond to the inner call of their environment. 

So now I listen back to it and hear a brief summer romance I had with Cappadocia.

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