I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and that the New Year brings much joy and peace to you and your loved ones. I released two pieces at the end of the year – something resembling holiday music – each to evoke a different side of the season – one reflective, one joyful.
“Grace” serendipitously developed into a piece with an unusual combination of instruments and styles. Ethno-musicologist Beth Bahia Cohen is featured, playing both the turkish yayli tambour and fiddle in a middle eastern-style. Also featured are cellist Ashima Scripp as well as loungy electronica and african hand drums.
The piece originated with the opening melody and bass groove. As I added to it I wanted to contrast the static harmony of the opening section with progressively richer and brighter sonorities, creating a continuous lift through the coda.
I particularly like this description of the word Grace by NPR’s Marcelo Gleiser, in his commentary of the film, The Tree of Life:
“Grace here means generosity, forgiveness, a form of inner strength that can suffer all sorts of insults and still keep going, resolute and beatific. There are many ways of describing it, but all of them are anchored in our existence, in our humanity.”
“Toys,” also features Ashima, this time with a string quartet rounded out by violinists Omar Chen Güey and Olga Patramanskaya-Bell and violist Drew Ricciardo. I wrote this after hearing an interview in which Hollywood orchestrator/composer Conrad Pope discussed the importance of writing parts for musicians that they’ll find fun to play. So, as someone that does not play violin, viola or cello, I proceeded to write something that I would find fun to play – plucking lots of open strings and an expressive but simple melody. Throw in some big snare and bass drums to beat and cymbals to smash, and voilà – the sound of musicians playing with their toys!