“A Walk in the Woods” is a piece of music that Jackie Ecle, Class of 2015 from CUA’s School of Music, wrote in response to this morning’s reading, “Unnerved to the Core.” Listen to the piece using the following audio source:
Below Jackie discusses the piece in her own words:
“A Walk in the Woods” is written in the key of G minor for two violins. I actually started writing this for piano, then piano and violin, and after many revisions, I realized that the eerie, unnerving sound I wanted to create would best be achieved through a violin duet.
I want the listener to feel the same “atmosphere of pregnant doom” that Bryson illustrates in the excerpt, where he sets a tone of hopelessness and the horrible feeling of being lost with no direction. My piece opens with a dissonant cluster chord to establish panic from the beginning. Whereas Western music traditionally ends with stable chords to convey a sense of conclusion and finality, “A Walk in the Woods” concludes with the same dissonant cluster chord that opens the piece, to achieve the sense that there is no escape from the “sinister” woods, making a walk in the woods all the more frightening. Even though my piece is called “A Walk in the Woods,” after Bryson’s book, I wanted the listeners to feel like they are running from something—the looming woods themselves. Bryson maintains throughout the excerpt a sense of alarm, so artfully painting a picture of the “grim and wild…savage and dreary” American woods; I felt that an alarming sound would be effectively created by many arpeggiated diminished and minor chords, as well as the repetition of sixteenth notes played throughout the piece by the first violin, which reminds me of a pounding heartbeat and pumping adrenaline.
Hopefully my piece gives the listeners a better sense of just what Bryson describes: a walk in the woods will leave you “unnerved to the core.”
What effect did Jackie’s piece have on you? In what ways is listening to the piece similar to reading Bryson’s words? In what ways are the two activities different?