for flute, clarinet, vibraphone, piano, violin, cello
duration: approximately 7'
bird’s eye is structured in two slowly cresting sections, building an expansive, wide-open space out of layers of ringing melodies, pulses and a simple repeating harmonic progression (you could call it a chaconne). It requires great precision and clarity from the ensemble so that the musical lines each maintain their own character while also contributing to the larger structural momentum. In that way, bird's eye both takes the long view and minds the small details.
The piece 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. I then condensed that work into a solo piano piece for pianist Andrea Lodge, attempting to keep as much of the counterpoint as possible. And now I've gone back to the original instrumentation, integrating the original ensemble version with some new material from the piano version.
Throughout this accordion-like process of expansion and contraction, the music has been subtly translated and transformed. Some features that were once small have become increasingly pronounced, and other features have gradually whittled away. In my compositional life, I’ve come to see the value of returning to material and looking for new ways to arrange it. It helps me see new possibilities, perhaps suggested by an idiomatic instrumental need, or by increased contrapuntal capabilities or timbral combinations. And this accumulation of decisions and choices, made for reasons that may or may not be relevant in the newest version of the piece, becomes a kind of musical inheritance, like a gene: a hidden, unseen force invisibly informing the present version.