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Notes for Our Tears are What We Carry of the Oceans for guitar trio

January 29, 2019

This piece was inspired by a quote from Solar Storms – one of Linda Hogan’s novels: “tears have a purpose, they are what we carry of the ocean, and perhaps we must become the sea, give ourselves to it, if we are to be transformed.”  One of the greatest living poets, Hogan can in one phrase dissolve the barriers between animate and inanimate; past and future; or interior and exterior. I have written two song cycles using her poems: Truth of Matter and Rounding the Human Corners, * both of these are for low voice and guitar.

old b&w

Originally a piece for solo guitar that was premiered in 2013 at GuitarFest West in Calgary, I have reconcieved it as a trio to be part of a larger work titled Four Elements. This trio, being inspired by water, and the first, … As the Brick Remembers the Fire, comprise the set thus far and two more pieces will complete the cycle, being a The Oberon Guitar trio premiered … As the Brick in 2015 in Calgary also at GuitarFest West.

linear

Our Tears opens with a series of figures that feature the descending minor second, a trope used throughout western music to denote tears falling. Guitars one and two play the opening figure in an inverted canon. Some saturating crunching sounds with stacked minor seconds lead into a pulsing energy pushes the music toward the second oceanic section.

This section features flowing arpeggios and melodic fragments. There are multiple currents in the music at this point, as the melodic strains twirl in their own field before they finally meet. I was listening to the duets Colin McPhee played with Benjamin Britten the morning I started this trio. The hocketting figures and the simple octave melodies that enter later give a hint of Balinese Gamelan music.

A lyrical third section reflects an acceptance of those tears and also of our small part in the universe. There is a marriage between people and nature, of sadness and acceptance. If we can give ourselves to our pain, and accept it, we can become richer. In the heart of these thoughts is true compassion. The music ends as fragments from the first and last sections merge.

Mahmood met Nasrudin on his way to the market and took him aside. “Today, and today only I have a bargain for you, an elephant! Not just a part of one, but a whole living elephant for just one thousand dinars.”

Nasrudin scratched his head and said: “What could I want with an elephant, are you crazy? I have nothing to feed it and no place to put it. My wife, children and I live in just three rooms.” Nasrudin was now walking in circles and waving his arms, “The main thing is, where would I keep such an elephant?”

Mahmood continued his pitch, “It’s a beautiful elephant, all gray and ten feet tall with a complete trunk. “It has magnificent tusks, each two feet long, you won’t find a deal like this anywhere else. “He lowered his voice to a whisper, “You drive a hard bargain, Nasrudin, but today and today only, I will throw in a second elephant for only fifty more dinars.”

Nasrudin stood still and smiled: “Now you are talking.”

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