Whited Air

Whited Air (2021)
for flute (doubling piccolo), cello, and piano (9–10)

Written for ensemble vim, Whited Air (2021) is a trio for flute (doubling piccolo), cello, and piano. The opening came from a short musical idea that I stumbled upon one day: a slow descending whole tone scale in parallel fifths (parallel fifths are a big no-no in traditional Western music theory). The second theme, first introduced by the cello about two minutes into the piece, is based on a series of falling fourths. This theme appears and reappears throughout the piece in various guises, giving the piece a sense of unity. I am especially proud of the long, almost operatic section about midway through the piece in which the piccolo and cello are locked in an ecstatic, contrapuntal duet. In retrospect, I feel that this section exhibits the “endless melody” that Wagner described when discussing the ideal of his own work.

The title came to me after I had the piece nearly finished, when I realized that much of the music could be interpreted as snow imagery, though I had by no means intended that during the composition process. The title comes from the opening lines of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Snow-Storm”:

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.