Hommages for Piano is an on-going project of very short, concise character pieces in homage to various people that have inspired me over the years. These pieces can be performed as a complete suite, individually, or in any combination.
Hommage a Hayao Miyazaki (b. 1941) – Miyazaki’s films have always been an inspiration to me. Among my favorites are Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Among his recurring themes of coming of age, war as folly, as well as always having a strong environmental message, I have always felt this impending sense of inevitability in his story telling. In many of his films—Spirited Away in particular, the use of the clock as metaphor is ever present. In this Hommage, I represent that feeling of inevitability through the metronome, as I tried to evoke the feeling of his films through the music.
Hommage a Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) – Living life as a synethsthete, Pollock’s work has always fascinated me. Looking at these huge canvases, for me, is like setting off an explosion of sound in my head. For this work, I wanted to try to represent that aurally. Using his painting “Convergence” as a model, I assigned the various colors present in that work to different musical sonorities. Then, I literally traced a path through the painting, and translated the painting into music. The material on the looper represents the white/gray background, with the played material representing everything else sitting on top of it.
Hommage a Eddie Van Halen (b. 1955) – Eddie Van Halen, guitarist of the band Van Halen, was, simply put, the person that inspired me to become a musician. I remember the moment vividly. It was 1984—I was 11 years old—sitting in my Dad’s recliner, listening to Van Halen’s album “1984” on his Walkman. The beginning of side B (of the cassette) starts with the song “Hot for Teacher”, and features this blazing explosion of finger tapping from Eddie. I heard that, and right then and there, I decided I was going to learn to play the guitar. Much of the piece uses the tapping pattern that Eddie used in “Hot for Teacher”, as well as nods to moments from “Jump” and “Eruption”.
Hommage a John Dowland (1563-1626) – While I was a Doctoral student at Indiana University, I got to fulfill one of my dreams—to study the renaissance lute with master lutenist Nigel North. The music of John Dowland has always resonated strongly with me, and I have performed many of his works over the years, on classical guitar, lute, and even electric guitar. This Hommage uses his song “In Darkness Let Me Dwell” as a kind of backdrop, or skeleton. My own interpretations of his music, as well as many veiled quotations from his other works are woven into the fabric of this piece.
Hommage a Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) – The music of Hildegard has always amazed and inspired me. Well, EVERYTHING about Hildegard has amazed and inspired me—the things that she composed, wrote, built, and accomplished—especially in an age when women were completely oppressed. She is quite simply one of the greatest geniuses this world has ever produced, and it’s criminal that she’s not as well known as other male geniuses from her time (or later). When I was thinking about this Hommage, I wasn’t sure how to approach it. Then, one day (July 11th, 2018), I was doing some completely unrelated work, and out of nowhere, the entire piece came to me all at once, as in a vision. Yeah, I know how that sounds, especially given Hildegard’s history, but that’s what happened. The piece was written in one afternoon.