When I started In the Hands, I also started recording little unplanned improvisations. I’d done some of this same sort of work during college in the Macalester New Music Ensemble, and some things like it at Keys Please, but it wasn’t until last year that I started putting a regular, concerted effort into playing and recording these.
They’re perhaps not as interestingly layered or as structurally satisfying as the compositions, but they have a raw energy and spirit of playfulness that I like. They’re also good calisthenics: doing them helps keep me loose and flexible for composing. Writing music, it’s easy to get bogged down in endless revision or over-conceptualized note derivation; these improvs help me maintain the balance between conception and intuition.
I originally had the idea of giving the improvs nonsense word names, like “Fleedle” and “Scrunkic", but when I recorded these three, they somehow fit perfectly the names of three little towns in Wyoming my family has always loved for their too-good-to-be true poetic names: Lusk, Lingle, and Torrington. Since then, I’ve been naming all the improvs after Wyoming towns and counties — it turns out that the state is a gold mine of wonderful words!
These three make a set of sorts: I sat down with no plan or preconception and played them back to back, just as you hear them here — in this order, in fact. My little Wyoming triptych!