Scott Johnson Composer

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Jet Lag Lounge (1998) 10.30

Premiered by Tomoko Yazawa, July 99, Tokyo, Japan

Notes on the Music

I began Jet Lag Lounge with the image of a weary traveler falling into a wonderful dream in a public place, fighting against sleep but failing.  The banal background music floating through the air seeps into the unconscious mind and is transformed.  In the backwards logic of this image, dreaming produces clear and vigorous music, while being vaguely awake is hazy and fragmented.  The borders between the two are often as indistinct as the halfway state between sleep and waking.

The piece opens with chords and simple lines pulling apart from each other, rising and falling in unstable polyrhythms that might suggest a cocktail lounge pianist who should have had one less drink, or one more hour in bed.  Order is established by a martial, foot-stomping passage of rock-inspired solidity; a vivid dream that introduces the type of material that dominates the center of the piece.  But the disorientation of waking up continually intervenes, until the final return of the opening chords breaks the music back into fragments.

The image of a sleeping brain transforming anonymous background music into a complex and compelling dream makes a serviceable symbol for a very basic artistic process.  Artists appropriate their surroundings, and convert the elements into a personalized shape.  This is an important function of classical music as well: not merely to pursue its own technical considerations, but to offer the culture a uniquely skilled medium through which it can dream its dreams.


  ©2008 Scott Johnson. All rights reserved.
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