Monday, 21 March 2011

Ebb and flow

Since the Culter Mills project drew to a close I’ve started work on a number composition and community music projects inspired by the rich coastal heritage of the Northeast of Scotland and traditional songs about fisheries and whaling.

Another important source of inspiration is the work of other artists whose work relates to the sea. One of those works has been the book My Ghost of Time with art work by Gesa Helms and poetry by Merle Schroeder. Though the theme of this book is about loss at sea, I felt I had to look for my own interpretation of the story to help me identify the moods I wanted to communicate in my music. What stood out for me was the opposing moods of the sea and the way the sea can invite us to calm down: 

Time. At times it seems to slip through our hands. We do not manage to get a grip on it. Our lives pass by in a rush, we run, stumble, cope with things as they inflate beyond control.

How much we would like to be cradled by the roll of the sea. Keep up with the movement of the waves. The gentle movement telling us to slow down. Getting a grip on our lives as we nest ourselves even deeper in the arms of the sea. Breathe in, breathe out ... in ... out. We relax, find a new rhythm of life. Things lose their importance.

In the ebb and flow of the waves we have lost time but found ourselves.

But even my above interpretation, as expressed in my composition, turned out not to be fixed. Playing My Ghost of Time on the piano I see mental images of calm and rough seas. Other times I see the juxtaposition of calmness and restlessness to stand for other aspects of life. What the piece means to me is continuously evolving, reaching new depths. Playing the music over again, some parts of the composition have altered. Sometimes I even consider changing the title to better reflect what the piece means to me at this very moment. Originally finding my inspiration in Gesa Helm's work, the meaning of the music I composed gradually evolved in the process of composing, rehearsing and performing. I recognise that you as a listener may experience the music in yet another way.

Copyright text and music Petra Vergunst

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