I haven’t written for piano for ages before this piece. Last time I’ve written a solo piano piece was way back in 2006(?), I think. Sepia Hearts was finished in 2019.
Let’s get the name out of the way first – as with most of my titles it’s mostly word play, but there are also some allusions to hearts (and minds) that are always out of place, perhaps looking to the past or sideways. I also like the playing cards reference. Stravinsky’s Game of Cards anyone?
I’ve largely avoided the piano, like many composers, because of the enormous amount of baggage that comes with the instrument. It is kind of hard to avoid sounding cliche and relying on overused phrases and harmonies if you write tonal music, and equally hard to avoid sounding cliche and relying on overused techniques if you write music that doesn’t have a conventional tonality.
This is one of the my first piece that I’ve actually written as I would usually write one of my ‘contemporary classical’ pieces i.e. every note, rhythm, and dynamic actually written out as you would do when writing for music to be performed (as opposed to the electronic and more popular stuff that I’ve mostly been doing since 2013).
This is also my first ‘contemporary classical’ tonal piece that I’ve written in more than a decade (back then I was still in school). I’m not sure this is return to tonality for me, but it’s an admission that there’s lots of things to be explored between the absolute and silly dichotomy of tonal/atonal, which still dominates contemporary music despite everyone making it seem as if that’s a long forgotten ‘debate’.
This really isn’t a complicated piece, it’s mostly quite simple melodic writing, some of which I’m fond of (mainly the second melody, although oddly enough it was the first melody that the piece started with). I quite liked the also quite basic, but somewhat exciting polyphonic writing and adding more complicated rhythms and time signatures in the development section.
Overall, I am ok with the result, and I look forward to writing a few more of these, hopefully diluting that awful sea of twinkly, ambient, ’emotional’, ‘melancholy’, ‘sad’, piano music that dominates the modern musical landscape. Seriously, the world needs a lot less Tiersen and Einaudi, and a lot more, well – me.
Download the sheet music here: Sepia Hearts – Modern Piano. Use the code ‘performer’ to get it for free. If you’re a performer. 😀