Yesterday’s piano improvisation began with the usual frustration of looking for new chords—this time something around B minor. Just when I was sure I would find nothing, I began playing a repeating interval of a 3rd and a 12th above a G, then moved them around. I liked the repetition and stasis of the changing intervals above the drone, and I liked that it wasn’t overtly melodic. The intervals seemed to bring out or suggest harmonics inherent in the three pitches. This was helped by the fact that I had two separate reverbs on the piano sound and the volume fairly loud in my monitors. Whenever I made a dynamic shift, I could hear a lot of detail.
Listening to the changing harmonies and harmonics I realized that I was after a particular kind of experience rather than a particular kind of music. I wanted to hear the spaces between the decaying notes—the places of almost silence that keep almost arriving, but never quite. My interest in decaying notes is also why I enjoy working with echo effects that extend a sound over time in a way that your ears can track. It’s compelling to listen to—like being in a mini-trance.