Writings about Music

Genesis of A Musical Form

Michael Robinson (Manhattan)

It was either later 1991 or early 1992 when I became fascinated with the concept of diverse movements within one composition as presented in the piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven. This led to ten new compositions for Meruvina that are perhaps closest to chamber orchestra works among traditional Western classical music ensembles. Among these ten pieces, Tumult, Robinson Gardens, Mountain Temple, The Waterfall, and Ocean were completed in 1992. Year of the Rooster and First Instrument were done in 1993. Lastly, Photosynthesis, The Forest, and Yucca Tree were composed in 1994.

Prior to these ten compositions, my sense of working with a grand form design focused on extended compositions seeming to anticipate my immersion into Indian ragas. The first of these was Cave Pond from late 1987, followed by many other similarly designed works from 1988 through 1991. As mentioned, my focus then shifted to compositions with diverse movements between 1992 and 1994. In late 1994, I began lessons with Harihar Rao, and this led to many grand-scale compositions focused on my interpretation of raga form, which continues today as an ongoing central endeavor.

To be clear, given my initial Western classical music orientation, and how I found it necessary to forge a new musical direction upon deciding to focus on music composition, I view my grand-scale works based on raga form as symphonies with either one, two, three, or four movements. These include albums of shorter works with different titles, again amounting to a cumulative symphony under the album title, such as Lilac Dawn and Mango-Bird.

Before my turn to music for Meruvina, between 1978 and 1982, I composed works originally titled as symphonies (three), string quartets (three), piano sonatas (two), and even one-act operas (four). Only four of these early works, two symphonies and two string quartets, have been released to date as The Abode of Joy, The Lotus Girl, The Abode of Snow, and The Jewel Treasure of the Ocean.

- Michael Robinson, November 2020, Los Angeles


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Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, jazz pianist and musicologist. His 198 albums include 151 albums for meruvina and 47 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.