Echoes was created out of an improvisation.
I remember sitting at the piano, letting my fingers dance. Sounds old and new filled my ears as I shut my eyes and let the music wander as it chose. A lush chord here juxtaposed with a sharp rhythm there, painting waves and light gliding across an eager, empty canvas.
My heart sang.
Luckily I had had the foresight to connect my computer – with my notation software open – to my piano, so I got a real-time recording of the whole improvisation:
But this improv session did not generate a piece. I spent some time trying to rework the whole improv into a piano solo, and – quite frankly – I got bored. The sounds are nice, but as a whole piece it’s pretty repetitive, and there’s not much thematic development.
That’s when I realized that the improvisation did not create the piece. It did, however, create the basis for the piece. Compare the opening of the improv recording to the video; the first few seconds of the recording is the main theme developed in Echoes (see 0:00 in the video). The final product takes that rising arpeggio idea and turns it into a melody that is explored throughout the work.
Now listen to the improv recording at 2:50. I fell in love with this thematic idea, so I incorporated it into the development of Echoes. It starts at 2:43 and winds its way up through the piece until the resolution at 4:00 (listen specifically starting at 3:38 for the overlap) .
If you read my last blog, you might recognize the piano arpeggio ostinato in the bass. Yes, that was directly inspired by that film’s score. 🙂
The title stems from the beginning and ending of Echoes. I had the harmonic idea of the two changing chords (for those of you wondering, it’s A minor to E-flat Major) stuck in my head, and if you listen closely you can hear echoes of those chords throughout the piece. And many melodic ideas repeat slightly varied as the piece progresses, which supports the “echo”.
Echoes is a piece of exploration. It combines characteristics of modernism (the exploration of sound) with Romanticism (the exploration of emotion through melody and harmony), and I hope it brings you on a journey with me.
*If you would like to download the sheet music, click here.