Opus 1313

The Forest for the Trees (2018)

for Organ

Duration: 9 min.

Dedication: for Forrest Eimold

Contact the composer regarding perusal or performance materials.

The Forest for the Trees (2018) is dedicated to Forrest Eimold. For some time, I have intended to write a new work for Forrest, a remarkable musician and musical explorer. When time eventually permitted in my project schedule to work on something, I found that anger and frustration over various political events were completely mentally consuming, and it would be impossible to put them aside in the writing of a new work. Abstract music does not necessarily have any inherent non-musical syntactic meaning, but an emotional landscape is something that music can reflect and map very well.

I decided in this piece to explore certain emotional landscapes in a different way from all of my other organ works. There is a great deal of “grit” in the musical material of this piece. Normally the composition process (for me) would involve a constant refinement: simplification of things to their essence and a complete integration of all material. This time, however, I decided to take the advice that I heard Christian Wolff once give in a masterclass and “just let things happen,” and thus to allow a certain kind of rather raw expression to dominate.

An opening trio-textured section was inspired by the remarkable, complex polyphonic music of the medieval Cypriot-French Torino Codex. This section provides the seeds of the remainder of the piece in both rhythmic and pitch content. The title provides a kind of metaphor for the overall piece, where the varied smaller details are subsumed into the effect of the whole.