I have been inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poetry ever since reading ‘My Life Closed Twice Before It’s Close’ at the age of 15. Her poetic language, rhythm and imagery suggest so many musical possibilities that setting it to music was relatively easy. In Twice, you hear each song twice (or partially twice). First, the piano plays the accompaniment alone, then repeats with the singer joining in.
I was interested in reinterpreting how you hear an accompaniment. On first hearing, it’s a colorful piano solo, on second hearing it becomes a subtle ‘background’ to the singer. It also adds a fun, unexpected element - what you thought you were hearing in the piano changes when you hear it repeated with the singer.

The Sea of Sunset
The superimposition of chords a major third apart creates a sun-washed sound-world. Combining C major and E major, or G major and B major sounds bright and light and sun-washed.

The upper and lower voices in the piano flow in different meters - like waves breaking and washing up on a beach.

The Wind
Chords of either thirds or sixths hang in the air like wind chimes. Light gusts of wind swirl around and make the chimes ring out. Olivia sings her story through this forest of chimes.

The Soul’s Storm
This song uses the same harmonic world as song number one, except the pacing of the harmony is now much faster. The result is a bleached and blistered soundscape. After a hot summer night tossing and turning, the storm still hangs heavy in the sky in the morning.

Two Voyagers
The singer recounts an old ballad - a sea shanty. Delicate wisps of distant piano sounds flutter over the horizon. 

The wind chimes of song two, The Wind, return. They descend and eventually form a new harmonic landscape deep in the bass of the piano. The song-cycle’s pacing slows, and shadows fall as evening draws close.

© Alastair Stout 2022