In the course of our lives, we come across many atmospheres. Some we find: a sandy beach, a busy city street, a quiet museum. Others we make: crowded concert venues, roadways with traffic, or workplaces. Some we even dream of: the literary landscapes of stories or the dramatically-lit backdrops of movies. For as many of these as we experience every day, it's not often that we take time to think about them. In our rush to get to the next big thing, it can be easy to miss where we are now and push our surroundings to the backs of our minds.
Unfortunately this can be true both in the physical world and mentally. Much as we might quicken our pace to get to the restaurant such that we miss the sights, sounds, and smells on the way, we can often fixate on what approaches so much that we disregard what is in the present. Waves Come is both a reminder to slow down every once in a while and a celebration of what might be found when we do just that.
Many of those close to me know that lakes and beaches hold a special place in my heart. The sound of waves crashing against the shoreline, the cool breeze drifting across my face, the mesmerizing patterns of reflected light from shifting water, these all have a unique way of allowing the worries of the moment to drift away for a while.
But the sum of these sensory stimuli is more than just a relaxing scene. It's a peacefulness that allows my mind to let go, free from deadlines and social expectations. Listening, watching, and feeling the elements of the atmosphere I find myself in allow me to attain an appreciation for where I find myself not only in the moment, but in the contrast I find when I move to other atmospheres.
My composition is inspired by this atmosphere that has so profoundly affected me. There are few rules, just a couple of small patterns as natural and inevitable as the shape of waves and the foam that splashes onto the rocks and sand. A piano arpeggiates in a motion suggestive of water, the rhythm not mechanical like a machine but rather imperfect and natural. The end happens when the performer is done, and not a second before. Other instruments (should there be any) enter and leave when the performers feel the time is right. The form wraps around the shape of the musicians' minds like the shoreline hugging the land. From this lack of form or story comes an opportunity to slow down for a moment in one's life, to clear the mind and remember that life is more than tomorrow. It's right now.
In the highly stressful atmosphere we find ourselves in as of the piece's release (April 2020), Waves Come takes on a new meaning and holds a special importance. There is much to be worried about; fear and uncertainty abounds. With all of the bad news we hear, it seems impossible that anything good can happen at the same time. One would be forgiven for missing the many stories about uplifting acts of community and miraculous recoveries. While it is certainly natural and sensible to be worried, it can be harmful to fixate and let these worries dominate one's mind. With that context, this piece should be thought of as an invitation for meditation, an aid in finding a place of respite amongst a time of troubles.
"Waves Come" was written for Atmospheres: An Evening of Music . This event explored the environments we find ourselves in throughout our lives: the ones we pass through, the ones we explore, and the ones we create. The musical route wove through city streets, communities, fantastical landscapes, and yes, even a stop at the shoreline with the premiere of this composition.
This composition is available as a free download below. If it allowed you to find some sort of peace, I'd love to hear about it.
A major thank-you to Dottie Kasten for supplying her voice for this recording.