From Santa Fe Currents show:
This music I’m doing tonight is based on old hymns from around the turn of the 19th century - these are revival style hymns that would have been sung in church with gusto and enthusiasm - and still are in hymnals today.
So, I was thinking - empires, governments, religions, vinyl and floppy discs all come and go and what's left?
What happens when, in thousands of years, someone, something, maybe some AI is looking at, decoding these little black spots on those 5 lines that for generations inspired hope? resolve? love? salvation? How will they be interpreted? After all, this is only primitive data, less sophisticated than the simplest 8 bit computer language, but infinitely variable, infinitely expressive - little black dots on 5 little lines.
My atheist heart wants to know what will become of this data, so clear, so logical, yet music expresses the deepest most complex human emotions better than better than anything else.
Earthly Pleasures - based a hymn written in 1911 called I Would Be Like Jesus by James Rowe and Bentley DeForest Ackley The first line is Earthly Pleasures vainly call me.
I chose this hymn because it’s in 3 and I’m a sucker for a waltz. One note at a time, the computer decodes the data, little stars floating in a galaxy of information, the little black dots on the 5 lines, until the computer puts together it’s own little waltz, awkward but graceful in it’s own innocence - then a church organ, another memory intrudes and it almost, almost becomes a nightmare, it distorts, it flys away and then we hear the melody stated fully, as it too fades into space
When We All Get to Heaven - was written in 1898 by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt and Emily Devine Wilson and this is actually the first of these pieces I did and was the start of this whole project. Here, I have one real acoustic instrument. A beautiful viola part recorded for me by Heather Lockie. On a side note - this part was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter - I had done this part electronically a but had been fretting about how I thought it really should be done on viola and my daughter, also a musician, bought Heather for me.
Anyway - this piece is also influenced by watching my mother die and thinking about the loss of memory, letting go of consciousness and about the ascension of the spirit, if that’s what happens - I certainly don’t know. At the end you’ll hear some static as we lose contact with our conscious mind, our memories fade and we return to where ever it is we came from.
I Stand Amazed - I think of it as the most frankly electronic treatment - I wanted to start with some my beloved little bleeps and bloops (I really do just love electronics) and they bounce around the room like they’re asking questions. I wanted to imagine it as if a computer was trying to discover meaning in those those little black dots on those 5 little lines. The original hymn I based this on was written by Charles H. Gabriel in 1905. He is said to have written and/or composed between 7,000 and 8,000 hymns. He was born in Wilton, Iowa and died in Hollywood California.