This is the first in my series of what I’m calling “Art Songs”. Taking a cue from Charles Ives, these are piano and vocal pieces, the text being various pieces of poetry set to music. The text for this piece is an example of “found” poetry which poet Rosemary Waldrop came across in The Joy of Cooking and arranged as verse:
Abalone, like inkfish,
needs prodigious pounding
if it has died in a state
Rooms for Tourists depicts a Cape Cod inn that still stands to this day in Provincetown, Massachusetts near the house the Hoppers summered at in neighboring Truro. Hopper completed at least two sketches in preparation – one depicting the inn during the day, the other at night.
Musically, this is a piece in which my jazz roots are on full display. The first two chords – a Bb Major 7th followed by a Bb Diminished Major 7th – have a very strong WWII-era feel to them, reminiscent of Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade.
What’s especially striking about this piece is the way Hopper handles the multiple light sources: the artificial light from inside the inn, the light illuminating the outdoor sign, the moonlight lighting about the building’s facade, etc. This is probably the “cheeriest” of Hopper’s works to be featured in this suite. Where most of the painting depict moments of contemplative silence and solitude, this seems to imply warm feelings of community. One can imagine the sounds of good food being consumed, laughter and good conversation emanating from within.
The Mansard Roof is slated to be the last movement of “Part I” of This Excellent Desolation. It’s one of my favorite Edward Hopper works (I’m a sucker for Mansard roofs as well…) and this piece will, when completed, attempt to capture the ebb and flow of the summer breezes. This excerpt is from the “calmer” part of the day when the winds have died down a bit. The house depicted in the painting was built by Captain Gardner K Wonson in 1873 on Rocky Neck in Gloucester, MA.