From Stone

The title “From Stone” refers in part, to the elemental materials of music making and composition; from the most basic materials we create refined musical instruments. Perhaps the first instruments were stones (to be spoken with a Spinal Tap quasi-mystical inflection). The other basis for the title is the difficulty I encountered in writing the piece - it was quite like drawing blood from stone.

I'm discovering that composing is both sophisticated and elemental at once. From a divided octave of only twelve pitches incredible complexity can result. In this piece I decided on eight pitches and did everything that I could to hear them from all angles.

“From Stone” is loosely articulated into three movements. The first is a short section that is a sort of meditation on the tonalities and sonorities that are the foundation for the rest of the piece. In the second movement, I used a limited set of pitches - expressed as chords and their related, intertwining melodies. As a way to bring more cohesion to the construction of the piece, I derived the rhythms played by the percussive instruments in this section from the intervallic spacing between the pitches of the original set - in essence, an attempt to model horizontal space on vertical space.

Though based on the same elemental set of pitches and their derivative rhythms, the final movement is the most free form of the three. The ideas for this part of the piece came out of recordings of my own vocal improvisations that I later distilled into notated music.

Molly Bradbury created the video accompaniment for “From Stone” with limited visual input and editorial suggestion from me. The idea of the movie is to have a visual analog to the arithmetic intersections of pitch and rhythm in the musical counterpart.