The original concept for Thoughts on Rain (TOR) was to be a song that would hark back to the days of Handel, an aria that would last around 10 minutes. This Aria was to be called “My Sweet Mage” and was planned to have similar instrumentation as Thoughts on Rain – the only difference was My Sweet Mage was to feature mandolin and steel-string acoustic guitar in the continuo section, instruments that were shelved for Thoughts on Rain.
I began by experimenting with ideas that made use of intersecting parallel 4ths and 5ths running through an octatonic scale, which gave an incredibly dark and supernatural sound. This otherworldly feel was perfect subject matter of one professing their love to a mage – a mystic sorcerer whose practices are a mystery to common folk.
The direction that My Sweet Mage was taking made me think of the exclusivity or rather, the possible exclusion of participants in the performance. To go into detail about this, please consider this scenario – My Sweet Mage continues to form into the brooding and somewhat risque piece, this leads to the subject matter causing offence to members of religious communities, which in turn limits the possibilities of performance. I believe that it could have been limiting because the majority of performances of baroque ensembles are held in churches – My Sweet Mage was the wrong piece for the venue.
The driving motivation behind composing Thoughts on Rain was to use an ensemble that was readily available and already in widespread use. The historically informed performance community is strong in Melbourne and throughout the world, with many ensembles looking to expand their repertoire and find new audiences. Composing for a baroque ensemble seemed logical because a performance of the work is a near-guarantee
I played in the baroque ensemble for the entirety of my studies at MCM and made some life long friends, this has also increased my skill as a violinist enormously. I have met legends in the Early music field and even have had an epiphany about composition due to my endeavours in HIP, all forming the notion that composing for Baroque ensemble is not only rewarding, it enriches the lives of others.
The turning point of the piece from My Sweet Mage to Thoughts on Rain was now in effect. The subject matter and tonality of My Sweet Mage was abandoned (it will be reworked for another project) and the subject matter of Drought was adopted.