Night Walk (2018)
for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, glockenspiel/snare, & piano
Empyrean Ensemble, Pitzer Center (UC Davis), 2018.
For me, walking around at night often provokes a unique feeling of wonder, mystery, and even serenity, mixed with a healthy dose of potential danger (depending on where I am walking!). At night, one’s surroundings are much more obscured and fewer people are out. This results in a heightened internal awareness and awareness of the environment. The lack of clear visual stimuli forces both the imagination and auditory senses to dominate. Among the sounds I concentrated on during this particular night walk were the beauty of wind in the trees and the occasional sound of wind chimes. The first few notes of the piece are stolen from somebody’s wind chimes.
The score shifts between a kind of guided-improvisational notation (also called “aleatoric”) and traditional, fully notated music. In the aleatoric passages, performers are given specific inventories of notes to play, with some expressive or guiding instructions to improvise on. In other words, as a composer I chose to control the harmony and basic texture, but left more of the nuance and interplay up to the whim of the live ensemble. For me, this is analogous with the spontaneous “counterpoint” of wind chimes, though it differs in the sense that the performers are in fact listening to each other and reacting in the moment.