Score (opens in new tab)
for solo piano
Andrea Lodge, piano
bird's eye is the end result of a long, forking process. It began in 2013 as a song for voice and piano. Later, I used that song as material for an expanded instrumental piece for Pierrot ensemble. Sometime in the process of working on a solo piano piece for Andrea, I had the idea of condensing the ensemble piece back down to just a single piano while trying to keep as much of the counterpoint as possible.
The piece is structured in two slowly cresting sections, building an expansive, wide-open space out of layers of ringing melodies, overlapping lines and a simple repeating harmonic progression (you could call it a chaconne). It requires great control from the pianist to layer melodies and lines so that each part maintains its own character while maintaining the larger structural momentum. In that way, bird's eye both takes the long view and minds the small details.
The keyboard has always been the place where my own music begins. When I was a young piano student I spent many hours improvising and writing music at the keyboard. But this is the first solo piano piece I've written outside of composition classes in college and pieces I wrote as a child. So I wanted to make something grand for Andrea, an inventory of all of the sounds and features of the piano that I love. But, as is often the case, there was a yawning gap between I intended to make and what actually came out: this piece is more modest, more melodic, more song-like than I originally envisioned. Working on it has been like greeting a long-lost friend.
I am so grateful to Andrea for asking me to write her a piece. I admire her musicality and her virtuosity in equal measure, and I hope that this piece gives her meaningful and worthwhile work.