You Must Remember This...
Orchestra 3,3,3,3 - 4,3,3,1 - 3 perc - harp - strings
Composers have long been interested in manipulating the perception of musical time. We've all experienced works that, because of their particular structure and flow, seem to be much shorter or longer than their objective (or "clock") time. “You Must Remember This...” explores the role of memory in creating structure and influencing musical time.
This work attempts to engage listeners on several levels, the first being an interesting surface created by great attention to details of texture and timbre. The real drama of the piece, however, comes from hearing the various musical gestures as metaphors for personal memories. That is, while the piece is not intended to chronicle a specific individual's life, per se, motives and gestures are closely connected with imagined memories of childhood, romance, family, etc. The flow and interaction of these memories/gestures creates the expressive narrative of the music.
We rely upon our memory to provide both short-term and long-term structure in our lives; analogously, any music that hopes to convey some semblance of narrative flow (as this piece does) uses repetition to build even the simplest formal design. Whether one uses a tonal center, a single pitch, chord or rhythm, our postmodern ears still need something to serve as a musical anchor. In this work, to choose one small example, the opening gesture with its ringing bells, crotales, vibraphone, and string harmonics, provides a very distinctive sound event which is easily recognizable whenever it appears in the piece.
Perhaps because of my close connection with someone struggling with Alzheimer's disease, I've become very conscious of how fragile our memories can be. In this work, as in the unsettling world of Alzheimer's, individual memories can pop up unexpectedly; they can be distorted, layered in unpredictable ways, or repeated interminably. Although highly unified in terms of harmony and melody, my thinking about Alzheimer's disease has helped me transform the structure of this composition into something quite unconventional.
The title, "You Must Remember This...," comes from the opening line of the song, "As Time Goes By."