Time Clips, Primitive (1993)

for solo piano

This piece was written at the request of Jane Coop, and during the planning and writing I spent several hours listening to her playing in concert, on CD, and in broadcast. I am quite struck by her ability to combine a crystalline sound with strong emotion, and this impression played an important part in the formation of the work. Like many of my works, this piece is concerned with my perception of time and memory. Here, a sparse, sustained line represents time's continuum, while rapid rhythmic gestures symbolize our awareness of the present. We might consider memories ("time clips") as a pulling forward or folding of time's continuum, and we hear this in the piece as the two types of gestures are opposed, combined, and merged, and then dissipated. The term "primitive" refers to the basic building blocks of a language. If we believe that in living our lives we create an individual language, then our experiences and their memories can be some of the primitives that define and develop that language.