Elusory Moment

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Piano Solo (2014)

Elusory Moment is meant to evoke the feeling you get when you become aware of a moment of beauty passing by – you try to absorb as much as you can with your senses, but it's already gone.





Program Notes

This composition was begun over the Christmas holidays of 2013, and completed and published in the early part of January 2014. It is short, and meant to be performed with an achingly beautiful awareness of the melody, its tiny curved phrases and rhythmic repetitions.

As its name suggests, this is a song about the feeling when you become aware of a moment passing by. It’s a moment of something transient, delicate, and gorgeous – and as it passes by you become aware that you should try to absorb as much as you can with your senses, but even as you are in that moment, it feels like it’s already gone.

There is a Japanese term for this, which I learned much later: 物の哀れ (mono no aware), literally “the pathos of things”. The word “aware” (pronounced “ah-wah-ray”) describes a refined sensitivity with an accompanying wistful sadness. For things of beauty there is a sorrow at their passing, but also a longer, deeper sadness about this state being a reality of life. Cherry blossoms are the most prototypical mono no aware object, with their short burst of exceptional beauty.

Accompanying this piece, I usually pair some photos I took of an aternoon spent at Bayfield beach on the coast of Lake Huron, on a cool September day a few months previous to the composition. We collected a bag of smooth round stones to use for a craft project, and I balanced some stones as high as I could and took photos of my miniature balanced rock formations, while the kids played among shallow areas near the dock, picking out some good bits of smooth beach glass.


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