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Topic: ****Mirror Reflections****

  1. #1

    Question ****Mirror Reflections****

    Howdy everyone!

    It’s been such a long, long time since I’ve posted anything here. It was a very trying year for me---due mostly to my chronic bad health (Crohn’s disease) and an unexpected death in my immediate family which also took its toll on me. Being severely depressed, I had no desire whatsoever to write, play, or for the most part , even listen to music. But I’m finally coming around and want to compose again—and I’m finding it to be great therapy! Imagine that!

    The reason I mentioned the above is because the piece I’ve just written is rather dark. I guess I’m casting off the final remnants of depression and despair harbored within.
    Being off for a year, I’ve found that I’ve completely forgotten how to use my software. So as I relearn it, solo piano, obviously seems to be the easiest place to start.

    The Piece:
    I’ve been struggling all week whether to post this or not. With all the great contemporary music posted on the forum of late, I felt this throwback of mine doesn’t merit a thread here; but since I haven’t posted anything in such a long time I’ve decided to go ahead and post. For the most part, this is a very tonal, dark, and melodious piece; although, there are brighter moments. If that’s not your thing however, you can skip listening to it, especially since it’s 16 minutes long! But if you decide to listen, this is how it unfolds.

    In absolute music terms, the piece is in ABA form with coda; where the “B” section is played out by using a “Theme and Variations” structure.

    However, it’s really “Program Music” and tells the following story:

    A very old man is dying on his death bed. In the last few minutes of his life, he glances over at the side mirror next to his bed. The mirror beckons him, and he finds himself being absorbed into it’s reality. The piece starts out with the mirror theme. His soul is represented by a plaintive and lyrical theme that follows. Then you hear the mirror pulling him further into its realm.
    Once totally immersed in the mirror, he flashes back on happier times, events during his life he cherished and wish he could relive. This is the “Theme and Variation section. The main theme represents his “Life” and the variations show points in his life which left an impact.

    His youth spanned the late teens and 20s of the last century. He loved ragtime and really, all of the Tin Pan Alley musicians including Gershwin. He also loved silent movies (the 3rd variation). He also was enamored with dancing, especially waltzing and met his wife at such an occasion. They traveled together to Spain for their honeymoon. One of the final variations depicts his greatest desire of fulfilling all his dreams while on earth; his soul’s utopia , but then realizing he never achieved his potential. (I’m starting to sound like a Wagner libretto. Lol)

    But at this point his physical pain rears up while lying in bed begins to pull him back to reality. The recap of the piece depicts his soul theme being fractured by his desire to remain in his memories but losing the battle. His soul becomes agitated and tense. He’s losing the mirror’s holding power.

    The final variation of his “Life “ theme is overlaid with the sound of the grandfather clock in his room, striking six o’clock, signaling that the time of his death has arrived.
    Slowly the piece runs out of energy, winds down, the mirror gives its last tribute to him and the final few notes is an upward phrase that represents his spirit leaving his body and moving on.

    Isn’t this just the happiest story you’ve ever heard?

    The title, “Mirror Reflections” is actually a pun of sorts. It could also be titled “Mere Reflections” due to the fact the old man briefly sees his past within minutes of his death and he sees it in a pure and simple way---nothing momentous or earthshaking and with really no new revelation about his life revealed.

    I guess I could have titled it, “Mere Mirror on the wall, who’s……”nah, to corny!!

    The first reaction I got from friends was the question, “Cass, is this autobiographical ?” I laughed and said, “I sure hope not,…I’m still here aren’t I ?”.

    At any rate, I’m now working feverishly on my orchestral piece while I’m in good health. I’d go back and re-record this if I had the time because I realize the reverb is too much and the stereo field is too wide for how I wanted the piano to sound. My intention was to make it sound orchestral in scope, it was just too much. Hopefully you can ignore the sound quality and still listen and enjoy the piece.

    Cass (Garritan Steinway –under lid perspective, reverb=SPACES:solo piano stage)



  2. #2

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    that is one hefty piece!

    there are some really beautiful musical ideas in it.

    I particularly liked the short sequence of "dances" in the middle (a fox trot? a jig? and a ragtime?)

    looking at the score, that looks like it requires HUGE hands... and there's a particularly cruel rapid run of parallel 3rds in the right hand at one point. I know that I would not write that. it's pretty treacherous.

  3. #3

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    Wow.... gorgeous, lavish, very very emotional.
    I have been taken to an outdoor journey while sipping my morning coffee on a cloudy day.
    Thank you for this, sincerely enjoyed every bit of it and will definitely listen again.

  4. #4

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    Hey Michel,

    Glad you enjoyed this little ditty of mine. I can't tell you how ecstatic I am to be playing and composing again.
    Quote Originally Posted by qccowboy View Post
    there's a particularly cruel rapid run of parallel 3rds in the right hand at one point. I know that I would not write that. it's pretty treacherous.
    And, of course, there is a story behind this. When I was in my teens I loved to seek out and play the piano repertoire that had really difficult, somewhat quirky technique. I played all the Scarlatti sonatas I could find that had hand-crossings in them, left-hand leaping back and forth across the right at lightening speed. Or his repeated note sonatas and trying to find the piano with the regulation to match my fingers. Great fun!

    But I really excelled at parallel thirds and other dexterity finger tortures. My fave was the Toccata of Schumann, playing it as fast as possible. I was more driven by speed back then, rather then displaying any sort of sentient expression or nuance of phrase. And I loved playing all the etudes of Chopin, especially op. 25 no. 6, "The thirds" study. I was so adept at playing chromatic parallel thirds I sought out pieces that had them. Anyway, to this day I can play a chromatic or diatonic scale in parallel thirds faster than using single notes. Why....haven't the foggiest reason, my hands just conform to it.

    So, you'll find quite often I inject parallel thirds into my pieces at the frustration and dismay of other pianists. Guess I'm evil in some way; Treacherous is my middle name. lol


  5. #5

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    Quote Originally Posted by sec2 View Post
    Wow.... gorgeous, lavish, very very emotional.
    I have been taken to an outdoor journey while sipping my morning coffee on a cloudy day.
    Thank you for this, sincerely enjoyed every bit of it and will definitely listen again.
    Emotional it is! Probably too much so, but considering my last year, not surprising. Glad you enjoyed it with your coffee. I think the cloudy day enhances the experience. I really like listening to this at night with the lights down low, leaning back in my chair and closing my eyes and enjoying the journey. And if you want to make it really creepy, put a mirror in front of you! lol

    Thanks again for the "thumbs up" on this one!


  6. #6

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    Cass Hansen

    You should be proud of yourself for writing such an impressive piece of music.
    There's plenty of good music here, but this blows my mind.
    The amount of imagination it must've taken to compose this.


  7. #7

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    Cass! You're a sentimentalist! Oh, but there's a negative connotation to that, often meaning showy but shallow quasi-feeling--I don't mean that. But Charlie Chaplin was a sentimentalist in the good sense, and one of my favorite human beings - so, that's the kind of company I mean to have you in.

    Better--You're a dramatist! And you know me well enough to know that drama is where I live and breathe. The world has too little true, artful, theatrical drama any more. And your piece is jam packed as much with drama as acute musical savvy.

    Being "programmatic" puts it in a rather old-fashioned era, just like the character in the scenario the music is illustrating.

    To me that means this should be a theatre piece. A dance. Now can't you see this as a modern ballet, with all the trappings? Old man in bed at the start, and his mirror - and the dancers are his memories, lead dancer being him as a younger man. Audiences would luxuriate in it, done well enough. Live piano for the performance.

    There is much more in this than just some "beautiful musical ideas" - This is fully realized, rich, dramatic, gorgeous, opulently harmonized music from start to finish--And in a word, I Love it.


  8. #8

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    Hi Cass,

    I am most pleased that you posted your thread which I enormously enjoyed. I was also pleased you read your descriptive piece where you say that your health has improved lately and that you are taking full advantage !!

    The piano playing is virtuostic and thrilling and tells a very moving story. I look forward to hearing the subsequent, anticipated, orchestral version, but meanwhile, the piano version mightily impresses in its own right and, in my opinion, should be allowed a life of its own, even if you produce an orchestral version.

    Well done, Antony (guitar pieces)

  9. #9

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    Omg, Cass, once you start you can’t be stopped!!
    How did you do that in such a short time?
    Just entering the notation would take me a few months… lol

    What a story both in words and music.
    It would be very suitable for a silent short movie… everything is there.

    I hope now that you’ve taken that load off your shoulders you will find the way
    to express the quiet voices that are also inside of you.
    They are always there waiting for you to sit still and listen to them.

    I believe that what they have to say to you will give you the peace of mind
    you are looking for, because the more you listen to them the less you’ll pay attention
    to the loud and noisy disturbing ones and that will eventually silence them.

    You have a very rich and fertile inner world which is evident in all your compositions
    and I encourage you to develop that, just as you did with the rich and fertile soil
    you worked with so many years, creating new and fresh panoramas.

    So glad you returned and now: stay put! lol

    ~ Yudit ~

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Wilton, NH

    Re: ****Mirror Reflections****

    I was a couple of minutes into this before I read 16 minutes - by then it was too late and I was hooked and had to finish... no curse as this was great.

    First I have to say I am sorry about all of your troubles and am happy to hear that you are feeling better. Yes, composing can be very therapeutic.

    Second, why would you hesitate to post this? It's wonderful. "Romantic" and sentimental but never dull. Though using a tonal language it goes into great emotional depth. Thanks for posting!
    Trent P. McDonald

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