Lines of Desire

woodwind trio

Premiered in 2013 Connecticut College Reed Trio at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
Published by Chez Vees Music (formerly Leisure Planet Music)


Some pieces come about as a mostly pure abstraction, working out in sound some process the composer has in mind (fugues for instance). Some are much more pictorial, with the intent being one of transporting the listener to some real or imaginary landscape. “Lines of Desire” was an abstract musical idea that sat in my head for a number of years that was brought to life by a comment that was made by a friend of mine.

She is an art/architecture historian, and one day we were walking through a local park, she tossed off a term that I had never heard before. It was a reference to those footpaths that are made not by anyone who planned the park or public space, but the paths that begin to appear over time because of the paths of the people who walk through the space. their desire to go from point A to point B, or their desire to run a jogging path that stays in the shade, or any number of other reasons. In any case she called these unplanned paths “lines of desire” (later she claimed that the correct term is “desire lines”. I like the first version I heard better.)

In any case this idea triggered a memory I had about wanting to write a piece where the instruments start out in very close proximity to each other, almost treading on each others footsteps. However this sonic path is not fully formed at first. Many gaps separate the isolated patches where we can see/hear these lines building up over time. Some of these paths take years to firmly establish themselves in parks. Once though these patches connect, many seem to want to walk them. Yet also over time, peoples’ habits and destinations change. These lines of desire then might fade into the background, but leave a lasting imprint that leaves us wondering where those people might have been going.