In my last two pieces I employ the technique of breaking up and reassembling the sixteenth note pulse in 4/4 time, in the context of a single general sweep from beginning to end. I wanted to continue this development in Bright Blue Music, but I felt unsettled about the language needed to employ these ideas.
Inspired by Wittgenstein's ideas that meaning is not in words themselves but in the grammar of words used, I conceived of a parallel in musical terms: harmonies in themselves do not contain any meaning, rather, musical meaning results only in the way harmonies are used. Harmonic language is then, in a sense, inconsequential. If the choice of harmony is arbitrary, why not then use tonic and dominant chords – the simplest, most direct, and – for me – the most pleasurable? Once this decision was made and put in the back of my mind, an unexpected freedom of expression followed. With the simplest means, my musical emotions and impulses were free to guide me. The feeling of working was exuberant; I would leave my outdoor studio, and the trees and bushes seemed to dance, and the sky seemed bright blue.
That bright blue colour contributed towards the piece's title, but in conjunction with another personal association. The key of the piece, D major (from which there is no true modulation), has been the colour for me since I was five years old.
Bright Blue Music continues the compositional development of my past two pieces, but does so with a newfound freedom and lyricism, and a new language: tonality. Bright Blue Music for Orchestra was composed between July 18 and September 1 1985, under the commission of the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra.
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer