“Clues & Sublimation” – Musical Puzzles and Unconscious Visual Symbolism

CLUES & SUBLIMATION

(Clues & Sublimation front cover artwork)

At this time, I’m working on two new albums, the first of which is Clues & Sublimation. The origin of the album’s title is really twofold. First, given how pretty much all my music has an autobiographical character (by virtue of the fact that, as of my writing this, much of it is not commissioned, and it is therefore a pure and completely free expression of my musical personality), each piece will inevitably contain an expression of my feelings about life, or what I have on my mind (aside form the composition itself, etc.) at the time the music is composed. The inclusion of these autobiographical elements is, for the most part, unconscious. However, I often leave musical “clues” as to what inspired the piece – or what the piece is musically depicting – particularly if the title is a bit vague.

The second inspiration for the album’s title was my response to the artwork I created for the album.

I should probably describe here a bit about my process for putting together the album covers and artwork. Most of the time, I create the album covers after all the music has been recorded. I then design an album sleeve that reflects the content (or spirit) of the music on the album.

However, there are times when I design the artwork in tandem with the album’s creation. The album artwork doesn’t inspire the music, though I’m sure there have been instances where the artwork I created was a reflection of ideas I had for compositions on which I had not yet begun working, or thoughts about compositions on which I was working at the time.

The fact that the designing of this particular album cover (and that of Piano Music (Volume II), discussed below) was done while I was still working on the music was really quite practical. The previous two weeks were very busy (and very productive) almost non-stop; almost non-stop work. After completing the Night Paths album, I felt that sense of euphoria that comes with the completion of a major work. However, a day or two later, I felt a bit drained, not only because of the sheer amount of work I had done in that time, but because of various life circumstances that were draining my physical as well as emotional energy. During this “downtime” I believe I composed only three of four pieces; all of which were short(er) pieces.

One night last week, when I was feeling particularly worn-out and needed to take a break from the composition on which I was working, I decided to redirect my energies to the artwork for the next two albums.

The first completed version of the Clues & Sublimation album cover and the final version (featured above) were very similar; in some ways, almost identical, in fact. The reason I decided to redesign the cover (while keeping a similar layout and look, etc.) was because of the incredibly striking but completely unconscious/unintended symbolism (and the symbolism’s connections with the music) that I had (unconsciously) worked into the collage. The original cover was beautiful, and that’s why I kept the basic look for the final version. Its beauty aside, my intention for the cover was that it should have a rather sensual character. The images in the original cover art, however, combined with the unconscious symbolism and the connections they made with the other images and with the music, moved the character of the artwork from somewhat humorous/lighthearted and sensual to emotional intense and sexual.

Because creating a visually sexual album cover was not my original intention, I changed the cover a bit, mostly by removing some of the images contained in the original collage. By themselves, the images were rather innocuous. However, in the context of the collage, they took on a different significance. These changes in the final version of the album cover made the connection between images less obvious, while retaining the sensual and unusual elements which serve as the “clues.”

The unconscious symbolism was thus the source of the (intentionally humorous/ironic) “sublimation” in the album’s title.

As of my writing this, I intend to include Clues & Sublimation in the Electronic Music series. However, I may change my approach a bit and re-design Clues & Sublimation into more of a concept album.

More on Clues & Sublimation soon!

PIANO MUSIC (VOLUME II)

(Piano Music (Volume II) front cover artwork)

I designed the Piano Music (Volume II) album cover around the same time that I created the cover artwork for Clues & Sublimation.

At this point, none of the compositions featured on Piano Music (Volume II) have been recorded by anyone other than myself. So, unless any new recordings appear prior to this album’s release, all the tracks on this album will be recordings of my performing the compositions.

Most of the works on this album are shorter, stand-alone works, such as Will-o’-the-Wisp, Black, and Little Piano Piece for Bahar (more about this latter piece below).

The character of this album is rather different from Piano Music. Whereas many of the compositions on Piano Music had a somewhat “abstract” or academic quality, the works featured on Volume II are emotionally intense and rather dark.

While, as I stated previously, the album (at this point, at least) mostly features shorter stand-alone works, I do plan on its featuring two multi-movement works, one of which is Mystery Music II.

MYSTERY MUSIC II

I’ve been asked why this piece is entitled Mystery Music II, when there is no previous Mystery Music I for piano. Mystery Music I does exist; it’s the album, Mystery Music.

(Mystery Music front cover artwork)

The “mystery” in the titles refer to the origins of these works. As I mentioned in a previous article, I did not originally plan on releasing Mystery Music – at least, not in the form in which it was finally released. Various circumstances led to my decision to present the material in this way. However, I don’t explain the nature of the aforesaid circumstances (ultimately, because they’re not necessary to know in order to fully appreciate the music), though an attentive listener (and, particularly, someone who has purchased the album) might have some inkling of what led me to release the album in this particular form.

Given the “mysterious” origins of the Mystery Music album, I entitled this piano piece Mystery Music II because I did not intend on publishing the piece in this form. This music was originally composed for an entirely different purpose. Again, circumstances dictated that, if I wanted this music to be heard in a way that would make sense (i.e., outside of the context for which it was originally composed), I had to publish it in this form. In other words, this is another installment of a series of works that were presented differently than I originally intended. The “mystery” is thus the music, the presentation/format, and the untold story behind why the music is so presented.

PIANO MUSIC (VOLUME II), CONTINUED

Another piece featured on the Piano Music (Volume II) album is a recently composed, short piece entitled Little Piano Piece for Bahar.

This piece was inspired by (and dedicated to) a young lady whose acquaintance I recently made.

As with Clues & Sublimation, I don’t yet have a release date for Piano Music (Volume II).

NEW COMPOSITIONS

Of the several works I’ve composed since last week’s newsletter, I’d like to share with you two.

The first is an electronic piece entitled Mixed Signals.

Like For Hayat and “For everything there is a season…”, Mixed Signals was the product of my experiment with one of the new VST libraries I recently purchased.

The other composition I’d like to share with you is a short piano piece entitled, Pasquetta.

Pasquetta is the Italian observation of Easter Monday. I gave the piece this title simply because it was around this time that the piece was composed.

NIGHT PATHS

(The front cover artwork for the Night Paths album)

Don’t forget that tomorrow (Monday, April 25th) is the Bandcamp release date of Night Paths. I’m very excited for this release, and I hope you are, too! And I also really hope you enjoy the album.

Here’s the link to Carson’s Bandcamp page: https://carsoncooman.bandcamp.com/.

Please be sure to visit that page tomorrow and check out the new album!


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