Eight Aspects (2019-20)

Program Notes

Eight Aspects is music that is about the moon in a symbolic sense (although, the eight “aspects” of this work could be interpreted as the eight moon phases). In this case, the moon represents illusions, the subconscious, and something divine yet ambiguous. This imagery is a common thread through the piece, though it is filtered in different ways within each movement. Different moods and characters appear, ranging from fantasy-like escapism to frozen-in-time ritual music; overflowing washes of sound to sharp and pointed textures; and circular gestures that evoke the completeness of a world itself.

One goal I had with this work was to create a kind of theme and variations, except the variations transform gestures and textures rather than a melody. These two primary “themes” only appear simultaneously in the first and last movement: one being the sliding gesture between a major second interval, and the other being harmonies presented in the piano.

These themes are split and transformed between three subsequent movements each, and come together once more in the final movement. “Theme 1,” the sliding gesture, appears in Movements 2, 6, and 7, while “Theme 2” appears in Movements 3, 4, and 5. Movements also influence one another and move across “theme groupings”: for example, movement three is the “negative” image of movement seven, where the falling, dry pizzicato of the violin in Movement 3 translates to a sustained, ascending arpeggio in the piano in Movement 7. Movement 2 and 4 vaguely share characteristics in this way, as well, where Movement 2 creates ambiguity in fast rhythms by sliding between notes, and Movement 4 offers more clarity to similar rhythmic material. The intent is for various threads between movements to give the illusion of unity across the entire piece.

This work may or may not be presented in the order in which it was written. Performers have the liberty to reshuffle the inner movements of the piece, and disperse them throughout a program of other works. Or, they may perform the work as written, as one continuous piece.

Eight Aspects was commissioned by, and is dedicated to, violinist Koki Tanaka and pianist E-Na Song.