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The sensation of dreaming, of an alternate reality that exists when one is temporarily yet wholly removed from the physical world, in sleep but perhaps even more awake: what, then, when this mystical, elusive experience is broken? During the split second that the mind travels between the dream and the reality, there must be something else, and it is tangible, cogent, too. It is a new sensation; one primarily of confusion, of countless synapses firing information and misinformation to the brain as it tries to understand what is real and what is not. Have I truly awoken, or is my previous consciousness a truer reality?

Perhaps, during this moment, the question is not even a salient one. For the purposes of I awoke…, it is this aforementioned tension, this state of momentary hysteria and profound examination of reality and alter-reality, all of which takes place almost instantly but slowly enough that it is still visible, in some way, to one’s consciousness: it is this that I am capturing. The four distinct timbres of voice, bass flute, kannel (an Estonian folk instrument related to the zither or the kanun), and violoncello reflect the multitude of sensations, memories, questions, answers, and, in a broad summation, pieces of dreams that instantly attack the consciousness: it is a process reflected not only superficially in the instruments, but quite procedurally in the content and its development as well.

I initially wanted to construct a sort of narrative, a sensory reflection of the text, taken from Ovid’s late Tristia, composed after his expulsion from Rome. But the musical narrative itself became disjointed and deconstructed, a more precise commentary on the true sensation of being roused from a dream. Just as the moonlight strikes one’s eyes the minute they are opened in the night, there is also, I posit, a further layer: there is no context in this moment between dreams and reality, no safety, no walls, really nothing. And perhaps it is the only time in one’s life where there is nothing safe, nor anything true.

4 February 2011 – Tallinn, Estonia

Commission: Resonabilis – Tallinn, Estonia – 2010.

Instrumentation: Voice (Alto to Mezzo soprano), Bass Flute, Kannel (or similar), Violoncello.

Duration: Approximately 8’ 15” – each page equating to approximately 30 seconds. The piece should not be played in under 8 minutes.



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Bass flute
Other instrumentation


I awoke and there were no walls to shield me from the moonlight