Much of I sleep… inhabits a dream-like world filled with mystery, although it emerges from the shadows
in the lengthy and spirited final section. The entire work can be seen as a musical journey
from shadows to light, or from the subconscious to the conscious.
“I sleep and my soul awakens,” a line in Carl Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy (1944), appealed to me as a title for this composition because it conveys a sense of both poetry and mystery, and of moving through a sleeping state to a deeper kind of awakening or awareness. I was also intrigued by the symbiotic dichotomy between the Jungian concepts of shadow and ego, or between unconscious and conscious thoughts and behaviours that he considered inherent to human nature; an earlier title for this piece was “Shadows and Light.”
The guitar part has many “cross-string fingerings,” which are chords or arpeggio patterns that combine upper-position stopped notes with adjacent open strings, creating a very open, resonant sound, sometimes described as “harp-like.” An example of this occurs in the very first chord, whose notes form the basis for many subsequent ideas in this composition. After working on this for some time, I noticed these first four notes happened to correspond with the beginning of “Within You, Without You,” the Indian-inspired composition by George Harrison on the Beatles' “Seargent Pepper’s … ” album (“We were talking, about the space between us all”). This discovery seemed both significant and fortuitous, and I decided to briefly quote George’s song more intentionally (or consciously) later in my piece, and to add the subtitle, “Kirtan for George,” mainly in reference to the lengthy, dance-like final section, in which the guitarist plays a constant flow of triplet sixteenth-notes that move in waves without break for approximately 100 measures, thus completing the journey from shadows to light.
I am extremely grateful to guitarist Daniel Bolshoy and CBC Radio producer Francesca Swann for commissioning this piece, composed between November, 2004, and April, 2005, and premiered in March, 2007, by Daniel Bolshoy with the Penderecki String Quartet.
©Clark Winslow Ross