Discover more from The Living Dark
Piano Improvisation: Monday Mist (The Holidays Are Over)
Music for, and from, early morning solitude
Welcome to The Living Dark. I’m Matt Cardin, and this is my blog/newsletter on waking up at the intersection of creativity, writing, religion, horror, nonduality, apocalypse, dystopia, consciousness, and culture. You can subscribe by clicking this button:
Here in Northern Arkansas, this week began with two mornings of thick, white fog. Visibility during the early hours on Monday was reduced to a quarter mile. The fact that Monday was also the first day of returning to work at my college after a two-week break for the holidays added a particularly poignant cast to the overall mood. At 5 a.m. I stood looking out of my dining room windows at a misty wall of white, communing with the dark, delicate shapes of winter-stripped trees as they peered hazily through the gloom in the pale glow of the pole-mounted utility light in our yard.
A little later, after meditation, breakfast/coffee, and reading, I found myself sitting at the piano and playing a song that I have liked for years, Richard Dworsky’s “A Morning with the Roses.” Then, as I was about to stand up and set my face toward the day’s responsibilities, I reached out and pressed the keys in parting, shaping and placing my hands in a random configuration. It was just an idle kind of thing, motivated by nothing in particular. The sound and feeling of the stacked chord that came out rather struck me, so I did it again. Then I added a couple more placements that likewise felt random, although of course they were actually channeling years of musical tendencies and muscle memory. After a few minutes of experimenting with the motif that had established itself, I decided to record it. The result is the improvisation given above, built around an odd progression of chord stackings (F♯ minor/G major, G major/A major, D major 9) and featuring a whole lot of major fifths.
When I went back and listened to the recording again a couple of days later, I had two reactions. On the one hand, I noticed several places where I had missed a few distinct opportunities, a few changes and progressions that would have enriched the thing. So I began exploring those with a view to possibly making another recording. On the other hand, I realized that I liked the recording as it stood, because even though it’s pretty basic, it honestly captures and conveys the state of mood and mind that gave rise to it. Eventually I decided to leave it as-is, and to title it after the circumstance of its creation. I also decided that it might be worth sharing here, with you, since several readers expressed a liking for the previous song, much more formally structured, that I posted.
The style of this new one represents a large portion of the musical world that I regularly inhabit as both a musician and a listener. So if you hear any traces of Ludovico Einaudi, Jóhann Jóhannsson, or any number of ambient/New Age pianists, as I myself did upon re-listening, that’s surely why. Whatever associations you draw, I hope it provides you with some momentary enjoyment.