Psalm 116: Be at Rest, Once More, O My Soul

For the record, I no longer equate lots of notes with good writing. There’s a time to explore the thresholds of complexity.* But there’s also a time to keep pruning until nothing remains but the simplest, most pure form of what you want to say. Nowadays I’m more concerned about pacing than showing off my chops. That is, does the music unfold at the right pace? Does each new moment seem simultaneously inevitable and refreshing? At the end, do you feel both satisfied and left wanting more?

This is one of those heavily pruned pieces. I have 3 or 4 completely different sketches for this one, and this version is the result of 3 or 4 rigorous pruning sessions. A song whose theme is “be at rest” needs to feel restful. But not boring. It’s a fine line.

Walk the line: PDF, MP3

*My first composition professor, Dr. Gibbs, used to get a delighted look on his face if I handed in a lot of music at my lesson. He would take out a pair of reading glasses, look over the music and say, “That’s what I like to see: lots of notes!”

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