Seeing is Believing (2007)

for Thomas Gould, Nicholas Collon and Aurora Orchestra
solo electric six-string violin and chamber orchestra

Seeing is Believing references the exciting and superstitious practice of observing and mapping the sky; while writing it, I wanted to mimic the process by which, through observation, a series of points becomes a line ““ this seemed like the most appropriate way to think about a soloist versus an orchestra. The electric violin is such a specifically evocative instrument and has always reminded me of the 1980’s, and I tried, at times, to reference the music attendant to 80’s educational videos about science, which always sounded vast and mechanical “” and sometimes, quite romantic.

The music begins and ends with the violin creating its own stellar landscape through a looping pedal, out of which instruments begin to articulate an unchanging series of eleven chords which governs the harmonic language of the piece. Three minutes in, the woodwinds begin twittering in what seems to be random, insect-like formations. Eventually, the piano and solo violin “map” them into the celestially pure key of C major; rapturous pulses ensue. A slightly more stylized and polite version of the insect music appears, and the violin sings long lines above it. After a brief return to the first music, slow, nervous music alternates with fast, nervous music. The fast music takes over, pitches are scattered around, the violin calls everybody back to order with forty repeated notes; rapturous pulses again ensue. The piece ends as it began, with looped educational music depicting the night sky.

10 Comments

  • I just finished reading the article about you in the New Yorker Magazine and thought I would check out the website. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to “Seeing Is Believing”. Bravo to you and to your muse! As a jaded 30+ year high school music teacher and cello teacher, I admired the clarity and spirit of this composition, along with the expert use of the ensemble. I look forward to hearing more of your music. Thanks again for a wonderful listening and emotional experience.

  • I am also very impressed with this violin concerto. Are there any possibilities to release the recording commercially?

  • Kinda banal. Are you afraid of dissonance, dude?

    Nico responds: ouch! Not afraid of it, just figuring out my way through. Sorry to have bored you.

  • Nice!

  • It needs more unity.

    There are some very nice sections but they don’t always come together as a whole. By the end of the piece I have forgotten many sections, or when a new section arrives I cannot recall the previous section.

    I like the way you use percussion and the orchestration is often effective, though there are a few points that seem to have random appendages.

  • Very nice! I just listened to it twice in a row (and I’m an unrepentant modernist).

    Rather than ‘bland’, I found the mix of elements/techniques far more interesting than a lot of minimal/post-minimal music.

    Thank you for posting this and I wish you continued success.

  • There is a certain freedom and joyous, physical movement in this work that propels one forward.

    You’ve really hit the mark with this one! Beautifully yearning, aching, and oddly detached.

  • I am very excited to have discovered this online body of work. I enjoy your use of 20th century harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic ideas in the context of crafting moody, sensitive, and dynamic works.

    Am looking forward to your next CD release.

    Oh, and kudos to the web designer!

  • Great piece! I thought the whole notion of incorporating “educational” music was really ingenious. Keep up the good work. :]

    – T

  • I understand Terry Silverman is considering playing this. I can’t wait to hear his take. I really enjoy this piece.