The Zen of Transience
There are few sounds so quintessentially summer in their timbre as wind chimes. They evoke a certain nostalgic mood whenever one hears them performed by a warm breeze. My new piece Wind Chimes attempts to imitate the kind of ephemeral and free-flowing melody that would typically be heard emanating from the instrument. Rather than focusing on specific parts of the piece, the listener is meant to simply relax and become immersed by the sound, clearing their mind for just a moment.
Composed for an ensemble of 11 handbells with optional wine glasses, the piece is fairly straightforward in design. The players are spaced out along the edges of the room to allow the audience to be surrounded by the music. Most of the players are instructed to hit their bells with a mallet at random intervals from the beginning of the piece to the end. On cue, all bells increase the intensity and speed of the strikes quickly and then slowly fade back to their original volume, as if a sudden gust of wind had blown through. During this time, a few players with higher-pitched bells perform the melody of the song, hitting their bells at a volume similar to the other players. This allows the melody to nestle itself amongst the aleatoric rhythms of the rest of the bells. Accompanying these melody bells for part of the piece are wine glasses. Often considered haunting in sound, they instead make for a peaceful, ethereal harmony that fits in with the handbells perfectly.
Wind Chimes premiered at "Summer: An Evening of Music," a night of eclectic music selections performed by local artists on June 25, 2017. The program was hosted by Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Chesterton, Indiana, and was free to the public.
A huge thank-you goes to the Bethlehem Lutheran Church handbell team for not only taking the time to learn the piece and perform it for its premiere, but also for allowing me to record a performance of the piece to share with the rest of the world.
Ringers from the handbell team of Bethlehem Lutheran Church who performed Wind Chimes for its public premiere.
The piece is available for listening (headphones recommended!) and a free download below, no email or newsletter signup required! If you like my work or you have comments or questions, feel free to get in contact with me. Sheet music for Wind Chimes will be made available at some point in the future. Enjoy!