Lonely and surreal
Mon Oct 9, 2017 6:33pm

I will address this in pieces.

The town is Creede. It is the first "city" on the Rio Grande, and the base town for access to the mountain from the south. From the north, the nearest town is Saguache, about 40 miles away.

I don't do travel guides. There are many of those. These are travel feels. Impressions of the region. Mountain, a nearby town, streams, other activities that take place literally in the mountain's shadow. I write music to capture one overall feeling. In this piece it is lonely, and surreal. The music even makes the sunlight on Creede seem unusual and surreal. It flavors and sets the mood for every scene. It is the one common element that persists from beginning to end. Dramatic music is full of support material for actions and moods, written to compliment a scene. In my perspective the music establishes expectation, action and mood for the scene, before it begins. In other words, the music comes first. Backwards from traditional "film score" composing, done with a clock to align sound impacts with visual events. In the movie that comes across great, and when the music is played alone without the film, it falls miserably flat. My intent underscores the power of music to not just reflect a mood, but set it. To stand alone as a real concert work- not a film score.

But there are exceptions. There are places where my music is deliberately aligned and written to be "in concert" with the imagery. I do that backward however, choosing and editing the imagery to align with and compliment the stand alone music. In "Hollywood" film scoring, the composer gets an "edited" movie to which he produces effect music aligned with a scene and to the clock. If the music is recorded "live," like the LSO for example, the conductor wears a headset with a click track that tell him exactly the tempo so "effects" line up together. There are expectations, and surprizes. Just like life!

This piece is something of a "dream." Not a particularly comfortable dream either. Just when something gets going, a restless toss of the dreamer hurls him into another scene, connected by the music. Not all do this. Many have sequentially leading imagery and pieces. Not this one. It is "uncomfortable." A little disturbing. Hard to find because the mountain is hard to find. You can't see it from Creede, or any other town. You can kind of see it from Center in the San Luis Valley, a long, long way off and surrounded by a sea of other summits. The huge flat "prairie" is one of the many San Juan lava flows- like the one above Wheeler. You would never know you're at 12,500 feet on the summit of a mountain!

The bear was across a wide sagebrush flat, quite a ways away. I am not sure if it was running from or toward something. I think it was fleeing.

The rock formation is Wheeler Geologic Area. It is a volcanic formation of tuff and pumice cliffs, and a lava flow. It is the only thing of its kind in all Colorado, and technically on the "slopes" of San Luis... although many miles from the summit, underneath one of those colossal, protective lava flows.

All my work is filmed on location, and the sketches for composition were made on location as well. I would recommend you watch the Harvard piece. It is not so disturbing a story.

Compositionally San Luis not only uses lonely, haunting instruments in solo, but the theme uses hollow, empty perfect fifths, perfect fourths, and unsettling tritones- aaugmented fourths or diminished fifths, all which produce a feeling of loneliness. The resolving minor seconds produce tension. The tension of loneliness. It is the feeling I got on San Luis, and feel from it. There is one image where a pair of snowfields appear as eyes, watching you. They have an ominous, and disturbing countenance. Like "the hills have eyes."

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    • Lonely and surreal — Pikes, Mon Oct 9 6:33pm
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