My dear late great friend Nathan Ward was kind enough to offer his talents on my senior recital. I was originally going to do something with him singing. He was really into the Bhagavad Gita at the time and wanted me to write something based on that. But I didn't really want to write for voice. I eventually settled on this four-hands piece.
This piece is about the nature of an argument. Is there a heaven or hell after death or is there nothingness? Is there a God (or gods) or no higher being? Is there free will or only determinism? The whole piece consists of three sections and is reminiscent of how a debate goes between two people. The first section (exposition) begins with a loud bang. It is romantic and idealistic. Perhaps it could represent a person with a view such as, "Of course there is a heaven. God is real and loves us. Life is inherently full of meaning." After a minute or two, this section dies down and there is a loud eruption once more. This part is modern in style. Here I draw heavily on the works of the french composer Olivier Messiaen including some "bird calls" of my own (a prevalent device in Messiaen's music, you will here it). If this second exposition were a "person" or a "view," it would go, "Life is inherently meaningless. We live and die here and there is nothing more." The material in this section sound like "space," "emptiness," or "nature."
After this, there is one last section that also begins with a bang. It features themes from the previous two sections and eventually becomes softer and softer with both themes in strict juxtaposition because rarely, in my experience, does an argument resolve in an agreement or even a compromise. People simply become quieter about it and learn not to bring their differences up.
This piece was fitting for Nathan Ward (a talented tenor, pianist, cellist, and intellect) and I not because of bitter arguments and intense differences (we are fairly similar people), but because we are both interested in music and philosophy and doing a piece like this together was a good idea!