Moonlight By Mirror (2018)


“Moonlight by Mirror” is the first music I have written completely without a hardware synthesizer. After a long hiatus, I decided it was past time I started writing music again, and actually succeeded where my previous attempts over the past few years had failed. While I was teaching, I explored the notion of doing another work using some sort of algorithmic composition, and sketched out some ideas, but none bore fruit. With the change to a new career, I was able to push past that idea and start writing again. I kept the same working title because I had wanted to use the title for quite some time. The cover art comes from a photo I took of the moon: for this photo I attached my camera to a catadioptric telescope, so it truly is “Moonlight by Mirror.”
“Mons Hadley Delta” is a mountain the lower slopes of which were visited on the Apollo 15 mission. In form, there is a harmonic pattern which first gets longer with each repetition, then after peaking decreases in length until disappearing.
“Rima Cauchy” is a relaxed, slightly wandering ABA formed composition inspired by the 200+ kilometer long depression in the surface of the moon of the same name, which wanders slightly as it passes the small impact crater also called Cauchy.
“Landing” is an octatonic (8-tone) composition, the scale chosen to represent the binary nature of the computers that ran the space program, and ultimately the Apollo Lunar Module.
“Mare Desiderii” (Sea of Dreams) is a far-side feature no longer recognized, having been determined to be composed of a smaller mare with a cluster of dark craters.
“Alien Suits” is a whole-tone (six note) composition in an odd time signature representing the alien clothing used by the astronauts as they explored the Lunar surface. Given that the astronauts were, relatively speaking, the aliens, this is my interpretation of what it may have felt like wandering the landscape wearing one of those space suits.
“Vallis Schrödinger” is named for a nearly straight valley of the same name, possibly formed by the impact that created Schrödinger basin on the far side of the moon.
“The Crater’s Rim” takes us on a journey around the rim of a crater: one of the fundamental lunar features. Craters are round, and one idea that describes roundness is the mathematical constant pi, so the harmonic structure of this piece is determined by the first 100 digits of pi. Listen for the diminished arpeggios to locate all the 9’s.
“Meteor” is an expression of the eventfulness of the lunar surface: a relaxed stroll around the crater park transitions into an octatonic fugue when a meteor comes streaking in and raises a cloud of dust, which quickly settles due to a lack of atmosphere. If you really want to, calculate the maximum height of the debris using 1.62 m/s^2 for g and the time from the start of the fugue until the return to tonic for t.

It took far too long to put this together. Hopefully, the next project will be a little quicker.

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