The Music

Beginning bell

The bell’s fundamental note is joined at the octave above by the flute and piano and an octave below by the clarinet. The rich out-of-tune elements that create the unique bell sound fade out, leaving pure harmonics of orchestral solo instruments. Several take a turn sounding the sustaining C, bringing the meditating mind to relaxed focus.

Expansion motif

On the 10th bar, at rehearsal letter A, focus is rewarded with expansion: the single tone of focus expands into many in a close, indistinct and beautiful diatonic cluster chords. First heard in the strings, this sound is traded amongst instrument groups like the opening C was: first in the strings, then in the woodwinds and brass.short-long-chord-motif

Joy of mindfulness melody

Then, after a minute into the piece, the “Joy” theme arrives in the oboe and flute. The melody is simple and expansive. Later, this melody is shared by the solo trumpet and strings.

Oboe-at-BFlute-melody-at-B

ContractionJoy_of_Mindfulness Flowing Meter

Many times during practice the meditator will find themselves lost in habitual thought patterns. Many of those will rise out of desires and attachments and can be emotionally and/or physically overwhelming. The music reflects this mental state with dark, brooding low pitches that rise step by step and build in intensity and volume, mixing in the expansion motif. In this example of a “Flowing Meter” page of the score, these elements are pointed out in black text.

At any point where the meditator finds their mind wandering or fantasizing, they are simply encouraged to let the thoughts and emotions pass, note them, and return to sensing without thinking. In Deep Listening practice, this is listening to the whole sound rather than any particular sound.

Flowing Meter

When meditating, time in not experienced normally. “Joy of Mindfulness” explores our perception of time using a metric technique by the composer called ‘Flowing Meter”. (See “Studies in Flowing Meter” for more depth on this subject). Flowing meter employs a constantly changing tempo to mimic natural cycles. Instead of employing the new notational symbols posited, Mr. Lay decided to simply use familiar accelerando and ritard symbols. In the “Flowing Meter” page of the score illustrated here, the Flowing Meter elements are highlighted in red text. During the time interval of the first four bars the tempo has moved from 68 to 120 bpm. The next two bars the tempo has slowed back to 68 bpm. This was the first large ensemble piece,  requiring a conductor, that has attempted the Flowing Meter technique.

Commission

“Joy of Mindfulness” was one of a pair of pieces commissioned by the Stow Symphony Orchestra. The conductor and founder of this small community orchestra is Darrel L Music. He studied music with the composer at the University of Akron College of Music department and became life-long friends. Thank you Darrell and the Stow Symphony Orchestra!

The Stow Symphony is a community orchestra and not a full size orchestra: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, timpani (who doubled on triangle), piano and strings. The original version of this piece used that instrumentation. The composer updated this work adding a tubular bell (C), cymbal and bass drum. The first 9 bars and final 1 bar were also added in order to begin and end with the bell.

 

Score:  Joy of Mindfulness – Full Score

 

SSO-5-2015-1-Program

 

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