like morning

2012 – 14 | for soprano and string quartet


[ score | recording ]

While the trilogy’s first two works are driven, each in its way, by thoughts on decay and something being lost, in this long farewell I am concerned ultimately with what carries on, with transformation and renewal. In this spirit, it is dedicated to my two sons.

The first movement of like morning picks up where the antecedent works left off. Much of its musical material originates with sketches and plans for continuations of those pieces that, perhaps appropriately, did not come to life at the time. Clear Sky’s resonance is particularly present. To cite significant examples: the soprano now revives the soprano saxophone’s role, negotiating virtuosic instrument-like writing in the process; the music unfolds in distinct episodes, which in their foundational structure and proportions correspond to the planned continuation of Clear Sky; and the flow of the music is perforated by noise-oriented “visions,” music of a strikingly different character than any other in the piece.

The second movement is based on three interweaving, cyclical melodic lines. It begins as an implicitly three-voice melody sung by the soprano alone. Words are explicit in only one of the “voices;” the singer uses phonetically colored humming for the others, as if struggling to regain the ability to speak or, perhaps, having nearly transcended the need for it. This melodic material ramifies through the quartet over the course of the movement’s nearly 14 minutes, a process that eventually leaves the soprano in silence “where there is nothing that needs saying.” Along this arc is a series of “portals” characterized by high-pitched tapping on muted strings. They open like windows onto another world, analogous to the “visions” of the first movement. But this delicate sound world is quite unlike those earlier apparitions, with pitch material deriving entirely from W.A. Mozart’s Concerto in C for Flute and Harp, K. 299, music that my mother especially loved.

like morning was composed with great admiration for Tony Arnold and the JACK Quartet.