I have a confession to make; my pieces come from a very personal, very private place. I know and admire many fellow composers who take a cooler, analytical stance towards their art and aesthetic, and I admire their craftsmanship and outward reserve. But that just doesn’t work for me (no judgement).
From a technical standpoint, my aim in writing these two little pieces was to see if I could set a short text in two similar but completely different ways. I did this in an earlier piece of mine (the outer movements of my song set Chicago Songs) and I felt this technique would be the right approach for this poem as well.
Besides their expectant, quietly intense natures/moods, what these two settings share in common is an interest in exploring the outer extremities of the piano for expressive purposes. In Song of Solace, the vocal line seeks clarity and comfort in the middle registers, while the piano acts as a kind of buttressing force that often lashes out in a spirit of hostility and chaos. In Song of Regret, the vocal line moves in a smoother, more step-wise fashion, while the piano explores the upper ranges of the piano with ringing bell-like chimes that act as a constant reminder but to what we can only guess.
The vocal lines in both pieces come across as direct and heartfelt responses to an impending sense of conflict, and one’s natural tendency to go to a calm and serene place when confronted with inner turmoil.