Thre-Braided River (2013)
piano solo

Robert Morris

Program Notes

In the fall of 2011, Fang-Tzu Liu asked me to write her a new composition. I had already composed Meandering River in 2001 for her, while she was a doctoral student at Eastman. The idea of a river wiggling though a landscape seemed an appropriate metaphor for the character of that piece, and it also connected to the terrain of Mongolia, one of the origins of Fang-Tzu’s lineage.

Upon commencing to compose Three-Braided River, I decided that I would return to the musical materials of the older piece but use them in a very different way. Where the entire range of the piano was always potentially active in Meandering River, the new piece placed its musical strands in three of seven different ranges of the piano at different times in the piece. The idea of three-part textures flowing one to another immediately suggested the three-braided title for the new piano piece, therefore implying a connection between the two piano pieces.

Three-Braided River has no major sub-sections, although it stops for reflection here and there. The music is gestural and sometimes quirky often with rhythmic and dynamic nuances perhaps suggesting some modern jazz piano styles.