Attention (Prelude and Fugue) – in F#
I have decided to name this Prelude and Fugue “Attention,” because it was inspired by the pen illustration featured in this post (“The Boy and the Cat,” by Betzael Corvo). What strikes me about this work of art is looks on the faces of the cat and the boy. They seem to be staring raptly at some object in the distance, engaging their full attention to it.
Attention is an interesting thing from a phenomenological point of view. Heidegger describes objects of being as emerging through our participation in reality. Objects emerge from the void as a consequence of us negating all that is not radically other. Objects actually emerge as a result of us paying attention to them. Until we do, they are simply part of the undifferentiated manifold of experience.
Objects of Attention
In a very real sense, things, as such, do not really exist until they are formed by us paying attention to them. Things have a way of accumulating meaning the more we dedicate our attention to them. When we do not direct our attention to things, they often have a tendency to fade into irrelevancy. But when we do direct our attentive thoughts and actions to them, other things accumulate around them until they become irreversibly embedded in our sense of being; replete with rich relationships of meaning with other objects of experience.
When an object has become deeply embedded in our experience of being, it begins to have a sort of gravitational pull. It begins to affect our language; consequently, it ultimately affects the way we think. That which captures our attention redefines our very reality. This is how objects of experience became our religion, which then became our language. Religion establishes a hierarchy of being. This hierarchy of being evolves into language. That language becomes our means, not only of communicating but of thinking rationally. What we pay attention to determines everything about us and our life experience.
Some Notes on Attention (Prelude and Fugue) – in F#
Just like my other Preludes and Fugues, this one is modal with impressionistic, modernistic, and/or minimalistic tendencies. This particular one operates in two different modalities. The modality of the Prelude is similar to F# Major, although it does drift into some Mixolydian, blues, and quasi-octatonic textures and has a significant amount of dissonance. It also explores the parallel minor a bit. The Fugue has a unique modality similar to f# minor, but with a lowered 2nd scale degree.
The Prelude is highly melodic. It has a steady ostinato in the lower register, and it slowly turns over a melodic motif in the higher register. It dwells on it and explores it, much like someone carefully paying attention to a fascinating object. The Fugue is a two-part canon. I chose to do this because I wanted it to reflect the two characters in the drawing. Just as the two characters in the drawing seem to have resonant reactions to whatever it is they are observing; so too do the two melodic lines of the fugue play off and harmonize against each other. This fugue is somewhat unique in that, in the development section, there is some extensive variation of the theme, rather than a predominantly tonal development.
The piece ends on the fifth scale degree; as if to suggest that the object in the distance is still something of a mystery to the observer.
Announcing the New Podcast Series
The Asterisk Piano Podcast (available on iTunes) now has, as its primary feature, the Friday Music at Five series (F.M.F.). This is the first official episode of that series. Stay tuned, and kick off your weekend with new music every week, published every Friday around 5 P.M. E.S.T.