Fuga Interna (begin)

Piano and fixed sound, 2011.

Composer: Katharine Norman. Piano: Xenia Pestova.

Fuga Interna (begin) is the sixth piece in a series for piano, Fuga Interna, and the first to include a digital part, which also includes a text by myself. The work is about listening, learning to play the piano, my mother, age and memory. The digital part contains a transformed version of the first piece in the series, Fuga Interna (opposed sonorities), performed by Philip Mead – who, by a nice coincidence, at one time taught Xenia Pestova, for whom this piece was written. Please contact me if you’d like the digital part sent to you. You can download the score below.

Download score

She said…
Put your hand here, beside mine
Where the black key meets the white
(She said…)
Lift your finger — that’s right
Now, down again
…and listen.
A simple act of causality.
The first notes begin.

One day you will look down at your hand
and see your mother’s,
underneath the surface.

The way the skin has creased into old age,
The way the knuckles have thickened,
The way the fingers move and stretch,
The way things fall.

She forgets things now.
I place my hand beside hers
To steady her in the fog where life is no longer black or white
Her small hand against mine…

She says…
I play the piano, sometimes — I sing, sometimes
I still know the old songs.
(She says…)

She is losing herself gradually — in parts
Things no longer follow one after the other
There is less and less to remember.
The last notes begin.

This is the last (to date) of a series of Fuga Interna pieces for piano. All the works in the Fuga Interna series are inspired by my experience of playing Bach’s Fugue in B minor, from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Like all the pieces in the series, Fuga Interna (begin) includes brief references to those of the set that came before, though it is not necessary to know this to appreciate the work, nor to perform the works in order. The Bach fugue is a constant companion in all my compositional endeavours, and has been for many years.