FLOW: Suite for Piano solo

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the Hungarian-American psychologist who coined the psychological concept of “flow,” described the phenomenon as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it” (from Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience). Ever since being exposed to this concept during my studies at Berklee College of Music, I have been intrigued by how people can get lost in something they are passionate about, losing all sense of time, their self and surroundings. On many occasions I have sat at the piano playing or composing for hours, feeling a strong sense of euphoria as “all cylinders are firing” and getting swept up into a state or realm that is far beyond logical thinking. I realize this may sound strange, but if you have experienced this you’ll know what I’m talking about!

As I have grown older, I am even more aware how a state of flow is experienced through so much (if not all) of life. Not just the flow in creativity, but also the flow of thought and ideas. The flow of time. The flow of conversation. Flow in the physical world such as water, air, energy, the bloodstream. The flow in sound, melody and rhythm. Our workflow, the flow in conversation, “go with the flow!” The flow of love, family and friendship. And in divine matters, the flow of the spirit. Let’s face it, things are flowing all around us! And yet at times, they aren’t. In all these things mentioned we can easily imagine the opposite of flow, when something has been paused, diverted, weakened, stopped or ended. It’s from those places where it is difficult to re-engage in flow, but it is possible.

This piano suite is the culmination of many years of thought over the concept of “flow” and while there are no personal stories attached to any of these pieces, hopefully you will pull something out of each one and find something relatable in your own flow of life. Compositionally speaking, while making an effort to convey a sense of flow throughout these pieces and embracing the extra-musical concepts mentioned earlier, I purposefully did not provide descriptive titles (other than “Flow #1,” “Flow #2,” etc.). I didn’t want to influence you the listener with my own thoughts of how each piece was speaking to me. I also latched on to a musical idea or pattern that I attempted to carry throughout each piece, much like an etude (study). My point in all this is to give as much freedom to the listener to determine what each piece means to them. I hope it works!

I would love to know what you think of these pieces. Let me know by emailing me at music@petervantine.com

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