Paul Cantrell’s music blog & podcast
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Song for Lost Things (rough)

I’m doing something today that I haven’t done in far too long: sharing a recording of a new composition in progress.

I’ve been working for some time on a set of piano pieces, all of them dances in one way or another — and all of them, in one way or another, full of the feeling of entropy, full of things falling apart and things slipping away.

This particular one has much sweetness in it, but its main ingredient is ambiguity. Its different layers are centered in different keys, different places. They mesh so that a note which sounds unresolved in its own layer often harmonizes with what is going on in a layer above or below — and then when that note resolves within its own layer, it must move away from resolution with respect to that other layer it seemed to agree with a moment ago. This means that the layers are always pulling against each other, entwined but tugging in different directions, and the music is always simultaneously both resolving and unresolving.

Of course, this all happens quickly, and it’s hard to hear all these little individual motions. Instead, it all blends together to give the music a restless, floating, perpetually suspended quality. The music does eventually find a place to rest, but it’s fleeting — remember: falling apart, slipping away — ah, but I’m giving away too much! I’ll let the music tell its own story:

Song For Lost Things (slightly rough version)
Paul Cantrell, piano

I still haven’t fully worked out the interpretation, so I’m calling this performance “slightly rough:” as I live with the music for a while, I’m sure I’ll find that I want to play some things differently. It may come as a surprise, but even with the things I write, I still have to go through the same careful process of interpretation, figuring out how the music works, and how to play it just so.

There are nine pieces in the whole set, of which I’ve posted this one and four others in rough form: Entropic Waltz, Dance for Remembering and Forgetting, Cradle Waltz, and Disembodied Dance. Wish me luck learning the rest!

Update: Here’s the score.