*2024 note: if you've followed a link from the video to this page, you'll probably see that the piece started out quite differently to how it has ended up. What I formerly called the 'Short Version' is really now just a piece in of itself. This was one of the first things I wrote post-master's degree while I was still a bit embarrassed about putting my name to tonal music, and the absurd second part was, I suppose, an attempt to justify it. Having spent two years deep in hardcore experimental territory beforehand, it not only didn't feel justifiable to leave it where it now finishes, but actually never remotely crossed my mind that it constituted a plausible complete piece of music. It was supposed an introduction of a little theme that would then be fleshed out with arpeggiation a la the Chopin C minor Etude. The good news is that having worked so ambitiously with form and structure throughout my time as a student, I kind of accidentally learned how to write coherent tonal music. I would still love to be working on my more lofty ideas to be clear, but a few years of experience in the professional ('real') world is enough to teach you that trying to penetrate the New Music world is not really a worthwhile pursuit (I'm not alone). After spending a while trying to get the people you need to like you to like you, you may realise that they're not the kinds of people you particularly want to be friends with anyway. It will not love you back, unless you're from a very, very narrow demographic of people. Anyway, aim high and worst case scenario you might get halfway. Don't let anybody beat ambition out of you.
Instrumentation: solo piano
The genesis of this piece was the opening melody, just as it appears in the finished piece. It’s pretty cute, as I'm sure you’ll agree, and I tried a few different things before deciding that the material would be the perfect candidate for my idea for a piece that would take the form of what I will call: ‘do something, then do it again but bigger’. I took the opportunity to tick another item off of my to-do list and use up Allargando in F, a title I jotted down in 2013 without a piece to go with it simply because it sounded like a cool name for something, since Allargando seemed an apt way of describing the form of this piece (though I dropped the ‘in F’ part for the small matter of this piece not being in F).
Those already steeped in their Luke lore will guess I got the idea from Philip Glass’ Mad Rush. But not so fast—I had something in mind more akin to Chopin’s F major Nocturne (or the second Ballade in a more extreme example), except using the arpeggio/bass-melody technique found in his C-minor Etude (not the Revolutionary).
The form proved incredibly ripe for musicking. As I composed the first section, I considered how each part of it would appear when I re-orchestrated it for the second section, and every decision I made presented an opportunity either to follow closely or divert from to usurp expectations, and surprising people who are listening closely is the kind of thing that scores composers extra points.
As I proceeded, though, it became clear that for the piece to be worthwhile in any sense the second section would need to do a lot more than merely ‘re-do’ the material of the first section, and quickly I dropped the idea that this was going to be something I was going to be able to play myself. Keeping it playable within my fairly limited skillset was a constraint that kept a lot of musical possibilities from making their way into the piece, so the result is instead a kind of unhinged experiment in form that may or may not be playable. I believe it is, since I laboured over making sure there isn't anything in the score that is technically impossible to play, but playing full-keyboard arpeggios at the rate they appear here will be a challenge.
The ending demanded a cadenza, so that’s just what I did. This was my first time writing one and the little harmonic vacation I took from around b. 238 onwards I believe expanded my musical vocabulary. I’ve attempted some more adventurous modulations in my subsequent piano works as a direct result.
Since I am really rather fond of the first section, I will consider it on its own an alternate ‘short’ version until a recording of the whole piece is made.