More Beethoven and new
piano music at Music for Meditation on March 4
|Beethoven painted in 1815 by Joseph Willibrord
Over the last few weeks I've continued to indulge my obsession with playing Beethoven, and engaging the help of my friends in pursuing this practice. At Music for Meditation on Sunday, March 4 at 5 PM at Christ Church in North Conway, listeners can enjoy the results of this playing. Chris Nourse and I will play Beethoven's sonata for violin and piano number 10. Amy Berrier and Chris will play a set of duets written by Beethoven for bassoon and oboe, but beautifully rendered on violin and viola. Amy and Ingrid Albee will share some lovely music by Peter Schickele—from his more serious frame of mind.
I'll also be sharing a fragment of a new piano piece I'm composing. Lately, it's been my practice to devote some of my music-making time each day to “asking the universe” for whatever comes next in the piece of music I'm composing. I find this to be a powerful way to tune in to the creative force that sends me music. I know that sounds pretty far out, but it is the clearest description I have for where the music comes from. I do not experience it as coming from me—I experience discovering it.
Historically, I've been fascinated with the structure of music and the structure of other things—like sunflowers and broccoli florets. Since I was introduced to it in college by Casey Carter, I've loved thinking about the fibonacci series. This series was dreamt up by a 12th century mathematician named Leonardo Pissano who wrote about it in his book liber abbacci. In case you want to know more, you can study this diagram or listen to this entertaining TED talk by Arthur Benjamin.
I've tried using the fibonacci series to structure compositions before. I've often been disappointed with the results as too intellectual to be comprehensible to the ear on a first hearing. Recently, though, I found myself writing something using lots of repeated patterns. I decided to try using the fibonacci numbers as a structural device again. This time, I'm enjoying the results. I'll be playing part of this new composition for solo piano called Differentiation. This piece is structured using the fibonacci series. However, there are elements of melody that break out of that mathematical structure and become more organic. These melodic elements might be thought of as designs that connect the rectangles with immediately comprehensible phrases.
I've long found that immersing myself in nature is a source of inspiration for me. But lately I've been unable to take my customary walks in the woods. I have found plenty of inspiration in this mathematical pattern. Perhaps looking into the mathematical realities that surround us works in the same way as going out to observe the lichen on the bark of trees, or the form of snowflakes. I hope my listeners will receive some of the same beauty that's evident to me when I'm lost in my process of discovery.