I choose one of the twelve tonal centers - or one of them chooses me - and a story begins to unfold. The notes of the mode reveal themselves one by one, hiding then re-emerging as elements of landscape, character, and plot. I've begun to notice that the stories aren't about me, or the valley, or the wife or kids, but about themselves. The pieces unscroll their lives to the player, narrate themselves, explain how it feels inside. They ask me to be patient. I try to follow the story, to nod and be sympathetic as if to a wanderer, "Yes, I see, I understand." My ear follows the plot; my fingers follow my ear. If I can follow the narrative line through to the end, I save the recording.
During a span of two years - from 1998 to 2000 - I saved about 65 of these stories that told themselves to me. Here are 19 of them, sequenced together to tell, I hope, an even larger story.
William Allaudin Mathieu (b. 1937) is one of the most influential musicians of his generation. He began recording solo piano albums in 1980; Narratives is his eighth. He has written three books on music - The Listening Book; The Musical Life; and Harmonic Experience: Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression.
Allaudin was a disciple of North Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath for 25 years. He studied African music with Nubian musician Hamza El Din, jazz with William Russo, and European classical music with Easley Blackwood.
In the 1960s, he spent several years as an arranger/composer for
Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington, and was the musical director for the Second City Theater in Chicago (which he helped found) and for the Committee Theater in San Francisco. In the 1970s, he served on the faculties of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Mills College. In 1969 he founded the Sufi Choir, which he directed until 1982.
The past two decades Allaudin has devoted to composition, performance, recording, teaching, and writing from his home near Sebastopol, California.
Check out the artist's website:
1. F (mostly minor)
2. around E
3. E minor
5. around F
6. D flat
9. D flat (with April rain)
10. A flat (more rain)
12. E flat (mostly Phyrgian)
13. E flat (slow trill)
14. A flat
18. C to E minor