Doug Thomas about his set of pieces “Angles: “Angles is a 2016 project consisting of three short pieces for piano. The starting point for those pieces came from a souvenir I had brought back from Germany – a small piece of the Berlin Wall, which I believe to be completely fake but nevertheless.
I noticed how different this little rock looked like when observed from various angles. It made me think about those ambiguous images such as the rabbit-duck or the Rubin vase.
I quickly connected what I had just seen to what had done the French composer Erik Satie, who had explored in a very interesting way the idea of points of view and variations of the same musical material in many of his works, including Gymnopédies (1888) and Gnossiennes (1893).
I have constructed each Angle on the variation of a simple and mildly dissonant melody, over floating cloudy chords and alternating basses. The overall harmonic structure of the piece is very basic, with a tonic to dominant relationship. Everything has been written in free time, lacking time signatures and bar divisions. All the pieces are played very softly, often pianississimo, and the use of the soft pedal is de rigueur. Angle 1 is constructed on a lightly embellished melody, repeating and evolving slowly. Alternating chords support the melody. Angle 2 develops the previous melody with the use of the chromatic scale, whilst the accompanying chords get lighter and rarer. Angle 3 is a return to the simplicity of Angle 1, where the melody is now in the lower part, and the supporting chords get clarity in a higher register.
Angles is a collection of very simple pieces, and with most of my works time keeping and tempi are very much put aside. For performers, good control over space is required and there is nothing wrong with stretching the time as much as necessary or desired.
I feel like this is music is very intimate, and I would consider it pretty much as a set of nocturnes, or music to fall asleep to. I like the fact that with their atmospheric quality, some pieces of music disappear easily in the background…”