ASHES TO IMPULSE is a collection of original music that stands as a significant creative statement and good representation of who I am as an artist. These specific works explore themes of redemption and/or realization through struggle, both musically and metaphorically. A number of these compositions were stirred from musings on the origins of emotion. While pulling this collection together, I couldn’t help but recall how each piece took a lot out of me to express. The writing process is rarely easy for me, but these compositions seemed particularly arduous. My writing experience is less like creating something from nothing and more like unearthing something that is already there. I am but a clumsy fool groping in the dark, fumbling to make sense of the things I find. It is agonizing, and I am always perplexed where the motivation to work is conjured from. Yes, deadlines help, but the desire to want to work is a whole other issue. Each piece begins with no passion — no life, no spark, and no fire in me to sit at that desk and work. Only dread at the looming deadline and the thought of slogging through the onerous task to make meaningful art. The endeavor is not magical — it is rather monotonous and stressful. However, in due time it always happens. A small flicker, as if from some mystical place, suddenly changes the aura. Gestures begin to swirl and make sense, ideas I put aside begin to connect and lead to others, and ultimately a concept for the whole emerges. Then, voilà, impulse is ignited and the music gradually comes to life, or is unearthed. Though, it still doesn’t get easy.
The included program notes are personal allegories describing how the music spoke to me during the writing process. They are not meant to guide the listener. My hope is for each person to have his or her own unique experience with the sounds, and in the end to be moved by the music (though it will require attentive listening). I don’t aim to break new ground with my compositions, nor to be revolutionary. My intent is to be genuine. Aesthetically I’m drawn to certain things and certain things live inside me, and these things all blend together to create a particular soundscape at a particular time. Excluding From the Four Winds and the song cycle One Perfect Rose, which have poetry as the bedrock, titles and metaphors for pieces come much later in the writing. The general vibe and ebb and flow of the music typically maps with something I’m feeling, going through, or pondering at the time. Maybe my subconscious shapes the musical details to resonate with my soul in the moment — hard to know for sure. All I know is that my gut always finds an appropriate title for the music by the time I have to deliver the goods.
A note of thanks:
To all the performers. Listening over and over again to these recordings drew my attention to your exceptional playing and attention to the details. What a blessing! I appreciate the opportunity to make this music together. To my parents for your support and instilling a solid work ethic in your children. Dad, you were the one who encouraged me to leave my blue-collar career and go to school for music. Then, years later when my spirit waivered, you urged me to “just finish that degree already!” To fellow composer and friend Christopher Walczak. For the countless commiseration sessions and your moral and technical support. And most importantly to my wife, Alona, and two daughters, Brianna and Camille. You have to endure this grumpy, disengaged grouch brooding around the house until the creation is done. I love you dearly and could not do this sort of thing without you.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) Ashes to Impulse. Soli Deo gloria!
— Gregory T. Glancey