the nurturing river
a fourteen-sonnet song cycle for wide-ranged voice and piano (1981-82), 28’
Texts by james r. murphy
The song cycle, the nurturing river, takes the words of poet james r. murphy and transforms them through music structured to mirror the meanings of the poems and cadenced to match the rhythmic inflections of the spoken English of the texts. This work was my first in-depth exploration of a new type of modular tonality that is informed as much by the motivic development of minimalism as it is by the procedural concepts of serialism and the unpredictable serendipity of indeterminacy. The vocal melodies for the 14 songs of the nurturing river are all variations of the same basic phrase. Each piano accompaniment is constructed from a single interval which changes for each song, initially expanding to larger intervals and then contracting back to smaller ones.