To Where a Chord Ends
piano solo

Robert Morris

Program Notes

This piece is a response to a ten-day vacation in Utah in the fall of 1993: camping and hiking in the national parks and places in between. The piece's design reflects the layers of ever-changing rock strata on the walls of canyons, mesas, fins and the like; a line of notes in the piano's middle register continues throughout the entire piece's duration. This line slowly constructs sets of notes which gradually collect to form the very loud chords marking the ends of the two large parts of the work. All of the harmonies and melodies found in other registers and places are made out of these chords.

While I have often made pieces that are generated out of the transformations of one musical entity, here I attempted to write medleys of such fragmentation and detachment that there would be passages in which any apparent forward motion would be completely arrested. As a result, the music seems often to decompose into austere and inert arrangements of sounds--musical cairns, if you will. At other times, the music picks itself up and streams ahead. This flux from in to out of time and back captures the mood of my vacation and reflects on time experiences not often found in musics of urban societies.