Tell It Truly (2018)

Instrumentation: solo piano

Approximate duration: 6 minutes

Premiere: February 5, 2018 at Monkspace in Los Angeles, California by Aron Kallay, piano. Event organized by Synchromy

My piano solo was inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin’s 2001 book, The Telling. As the story unfolds, an offworld Observer, Sutty, searches to unravel the history of the rise of the Corporation State at the expense of a vibrant traditional culture centered around the practice of the telling. The foundation of a persecuted culture, the telling serves as the guide to living yet evades definition. 

While the overall trajectory of the story tells of Sutty’s struggle to understand the purpose and pattern of the endangered telling, what makes this book exceptional is how Le Guin contrasts a rich texture of multiple, interwoven stories against a plot that favors stillness rather than abrupt movement. 

The form of my piece reflects this discursive yet solidly rooted narrative. Scored in a single movement for a solo pianist as storyteller, this piece explores the intersections of texture and memory, fragmented lines in another green world (or sonic landscape), and the idea that music can represent both a self- portrait and meditation on experience. 

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“The rest of the world knows its business. Knows the One and the Myriad, the Tree and the Leaves. But all we know is how to learn. How to study, how to listen, how to talk, how to tell. If we don’t tell the world, we don’t know the world. We’re lost in it, we die. But we have to tell it right, tell it truly…Take care and tell it truly.” Ursula K. Le Guin, The Telling (2001)