Acushla: Part 16
Acushla is an album about the Earth. It is a collection of modern classical music devoted to understanding the role people play in maintaining or neglecting our natural environment. It is a term of endearment, Irish slang meaning pulse of my heart. Toward the end of the project, I felt a bit insane trying to finish. I’m sure there are audible moments confirming this. Thank you for listening. I love you.
Below are a few ragtag thoughts from my journal on some of the pieces in the album.
It started with a dream I desperately wanted to describe with words:
It advanced from out of sight, moving with dangerous elegance. Eyes untouched by joy, filled with memories of lifeless things, cursed things. It scowled at me, hating me. Claiming me as its own.
When I died, I entered a place without form or texture - an infinite abstract. Warm light swam between me. Gazing through my falseness and guiding me along a verdant meadow. And then it saved me.
I realized I needed to write this in a language I'm more-deeply familiar with. And this collection of music is that realization.
Solar Winds I & II (Main Melody)
There are few pauses in this motif, accenting the relentlessness of the solar wind during Earth's formation. Relentless, but not pessimistic! I wanted the orchestration around these notes to be beautiful because solar winds create the amazing northern lights we see. String harmonics are meant to sound flute-like, windy.
There’s this idea that animals have a keener sense of the environment than humans. Stories of dogs barking and cats howling seconds (sometimes minutes) before Earthquakes occur. And there’s a plausible reason for this. Animals hear different (usually higher) parts of the acoustic spectrum than humans do. It’s not that they have better hearing, but they’re able to hear frequencies we can’t. These high frequency pressure waves travel faster than lower frequency waves, arriving sooner before the Earth literally quakes.
I was inspired to loosely translate this concept into music. So it became important to introduce high-frequency instruments (violins, viola harmonics) first - and they needed to be difficult to discern and far away. These would fall down into mid frequencies, (cello, clarinet), then the lows (double bass and a sub synth), building to something terrible and beautiful near the end.
Pretend the Earth is the circle of fifths. This piece wanders around it via common chord modulations, like we did as nomads wandering the Earth. My aim was to create a sense of having no home or root key.