Writings about Music

Imagined and Deployed

During a correspondence, someone once suggested that my composition, Lilac Dawn, was not a work focusing upon form while simultaneously complimenting the piece. At the time, with an abundance of politeness, I replied that Lilac Dawn was “about a profusion of concentrated extremes”; a description that would very much apply to some key innovations of Charlie Parker, a musician initially thought by a number of confounded listeners to be without form, his soaring over their heads. Looking back, a better reply would have been to point out how form is an essential element for myself. Helen Vendler put it best: "Form is content as deployed. Content is form as imagined."


Lilac Dawn inhabits a virtuosic realm of monsoon flooding melody and rhythm.


The form and procedure of Lilac Dawn (elements Aaron Copland referred to as “the long line”), similar to myriad other compositions of mine, is largely born from jazz and Indian classical music traditions, notably cyclic elements, as opposed to European classical music models. Compositional intention is crucial to consider, of course. Thus, if one listens expecting European classical music models they will likely be missing the import and meaning of the music, diminishing one's appreciation. In fact, sometimes its preferable to listen without any preconceptions of what music should be. I'll even find myself having difficulty getting into something written in the past because its so different from what I'm doing now, finding it necessary to let go of that not in the moment expectation.

- Michael Robinson, May 2019, Los Angeles


© 2019 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).