Last modified 16 August 2015

A Mind of Winter (SEASONS: Cycle 1 d) (2009)
(Flute, Cello, Percussion, Real-time computer sound processing)

by Roger Reynolds

SEASONS is a cycle of eight shorter works in two groups of four. Each is a trio with an additional performer who acts as a commentator: either a computer musician or a vocalist. Both cyclical and progressive influences are present, providing for connectivity and flexibility, while insuring change. The subjects of the cycle are the four stages of human life (infancy, youth, maturity, age) in relation to the four stages of weather during a year (spring, summer, autumn, winter).

Reading through a range of poets – Stevens, Frost, Ashbery, Coleridge, Milosz, Borges – I searched for pertinent passages, absorbing the characteristics they associated with each of my seasonal types. Copying out those passages that stuck me, I looked for convergences among them. There were some surprises, but what I eventually distilled in each case felt convincing.

A Mind of Winter is the last of the cycle, exploring Winter and Age. Four aspects I identified for the former are solitariness, glitter, freezing, and distance; for the latter, recurrence, grieving, grotesquery and resolution. I then mused on these successions of ideals as fuel for the compositional process.

The computer musician comments on an instrumental trio (flute, cello, and percussion) by exercising four algorithmic ideals – each of which has a variety of variables that are controlled in real-time – as a member of the ensemble. Passages performed by the instrumentalists have been captured and serve as “seeds” for the algorithms, which generate malleable musical textures that then interweave with and influence the instrumentalists’ interplay.

A Mind of Winter was premiered on 29 March 2009
 by the New Music Concerts Ensemble, with 
real-time computer sound processing
 by Jaime Oliver. “Roger Reynolds and His Protégés" 
took place at Isabel Bader Theatre, Toronto, Canada. SEASONS: Cycle I is co-commissioned by New Music Concerts, the Randy Hofstetler Living Room Fund, and the National Gallery of Art.

Gratitude to Jaime Oliver, Paul Hembree, and to Ian Saxton for their invaluable assistance in instantiating my algorithmic ideals.

– Roger Reynolds