The Breath of Life

Humans are complicated individuals even though we all start from two cells.

Slow. Growing. Contemplating. Lush. Carefree. Hopeful. Yearning. This piece seeks to paint a diverse set of feelings. Listen for the string ensemble easing in and out of the void, the solemn moments of silence, the lightheartedness of the syncopated pizzicato, the relentless cycle of tension and relief.

In some sections, I aimed for a more contemplative and reflective atmosphere. One key inspirations was Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians (an hour-long piece!) where Reich demonstrates the idea of "pulsing", where a note is repeated rapidly at regular intervals with an increase then decrease in dynamics. The overall effect is quite serene, making the soundscape ebb in and out.

To capture this atmosphere of serenity in The Breath of Life but maintain a slow and steady tempo, I decided for the lower strings (cello + double bass) to play long breves. At the same time, the music would "breathe in" and "breathe out" both dynamically and sometimes harmonically. As the lower strings play a third, the measure tenses up a bit. Examples of these are at 2:24 and 8:00.

This is the first of my three 2021 compositions, uploaded to mark the start of 2022. Enjoy.

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