Kyle Gann: The Light Summer Land (2010)

For decades I, like many other composers, have had an interest in gradual musical processes. As the years pass, however, I have become less interested in hearing the process itself in its entirety, which can become rather predictable, and intrigued instead by the variety of configurations in which the process can result. Thus I've developed a technique of "fast-forwarding" through the processes I set up - what I actually do is generate several minutes of the process in notation software, then listen through, pick out, and string together, collage-like, the moments I find intriguing. The result is a kind of spatialization of time, turning time into a landscape that can be hopped around in. There are also moments here not arrived at by strict process, though they could be if one set up the process elaborately enough. (Is there ultimately any clearcut distinction between the products of intuition and those of arithmetic? It was William Duckworth's Time Curve Preludes that first made me doubt it.) The result is something of a theme and variations, though while a conventional set of variations might use the same chords over and over while varying the rhythm, here a single rhythmic idea is diffracted through a kaleidoscope of harmonic and melodic treatments. While composing I happened to rehear a wonderful Edith Sitwell line Išve always loved, "Over the long and the light summer land." The light summer land I had in mind is time itself. (Had I wanted an aquatic metaphor, Thoreau's "Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in" would have done beautifully.)

The Light Summer Land was commissioned by Carson Cooman for a performance at Harvard University.

Duration: 25 minutes

Kyle Gann

Return to PDF and MP3 page

Return to List of Compositions

return to the home page