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River Ice



 Genre: Piano

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River Ice (Winter) is the first movement of my New England Suite, the second of two suites that make of Disc 2 of my latest album, FLOW: The Music of J.S. Bach and Tobin Mueller. Each movement represents a season. Each movement represent other things as well, but seasonal changes are one of the many things that color daily life in New England, help make it magical.

Driving yet gentle chord progressions combine with the restless/purposeful movements of New Englanders. The rhythms also harken back to New England's American Indian roots, in a stylized way. Shifting meters subtly move like patches of river ice, conforming to the shoreline, then breaking off into the current, melting, changing shape.

The music on Disc 2 is supposed to be original music directly affected by specific Bach pieces. Yet, to be truthful, they are more influenced by composer-pianists like Keith Jarrett, Thelonious Monk and Fred Hersch. However, there are phrases that would never exist if I hadn't just spent 6 months rearranging a dozen Bach pieces. I am convinced Bach colors every phrase. Without a doubt, this is music that would not have been written if not for Bach and this project. I have never written a piano suite before, so just the form is a direct influence.

Bach’s use of accidentals (sharps and flats) to lift or lower the tonal center of a phrase, or to modulate between phrases, is so smooth and logical, the listener rarely realizes the key has changed. Perhaps it’s because there’s always a ghost of the original key magnetically calling, like a mother’s voice never forgotten. How these accidentals and tonal shifts affect melody, harmonies, chord progressions, as well as the emotions of the listener, is what I’m exploring. "River Ice" demonstrates this. I am continually searching for a different harmonic setting that might emotionally alter the listening experience.

Other tracks from this album shared on Macjams:

Here are tracks from "Suite: Flow":
Momentary Undertow (second movement)
Salmon Ladder Variations (fourth movement)

Plus: from "The New England Suite":
River Ice (Winter)
Lighthouse (Spring)

And from Disc 1, Tobin plays Bach:
Reinvention #13

Please check out the review of "Flow" at Fanfare Magazine's "Not-to-be-missed 2015 Want List", favorite 2015 albums chosen by it's in-house music critics.

Also, if you'd like to read more (and listen to more) from this album:
Tobin's "Flow" project page on Tobin's website
"Flow" on CDBaby (where you can buy the CD Box Set
"Flow" is also on iTunes. Simply search "Tobin Mueller" via iTunes, or google "Tobin Mueller music"
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Song Stats
Hits: 2153
Comments: 17
Fans: 18
Plays: 30
Downloads: 12
Votes: 0
Uploaded: Sep 22, 2015 - 08:19:00 AM
Last Updated: Oct 22, 2015 - 08:37:36 AM Last Played: Jun 19, 2019 - 10:24:26 PM
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Daugrin said 1486 days ago (September 22nd, 2015)
Alright TM
Congratulations. The chops work. Best of luck on the commercial front, making the jazz pay is the hard part, MJ is not traditionally inhospitable in such work... but thanks for posting and perhaps you can break through.

Check out my latest song called Aroma Therapy
TobinMueller said 1486 days ago (September 22nd, 2015)
Commercial front
I've broken through enough earlier in my career, in a minor way in NYC theatre as a playwright/composer and stage director, to realize it isn't what you expect. Thrilling at first, but just doesn't provide the sustained platform one had imagined. Breaking through now is just paying for the project. For me, making the Fanfare Best of 2015 list was good enough. But if the music reaches more folks, all the better. I'd keeping playing and writing, regardless. But thanks for the encouragement. I would need to tour to actually break thru, and that's not in the cards. Hard enough to just play every day at home, with my degrading health.

I've been trying to shape a slightly unique musical voice my whole life. I feel like Disc 2 of this album is my best effort. Of course, mainly that's because its my latest effort. But it is pride-worthy for me, and that's good enough. I feel like the trilogy of albums (Impressions, Flow, and Of Two Minds-my upcoming Chopin project) which consists of reinterpreting and composing via inspiration from masters Debussy/Ravel, Bach and Chopin, will leave a legacy that might help provide a lens to understand what I've been doing my entire artistic life. I know that might sound like bloviating, but one must have personal goals, right? :-)

Many folks have said that, at first listen, they liked the Bach album best (Disc 1). But, after a few relistenings, they prefer the original composition Disc 2, and that's the one that has landed in their car CD player for that last month. So maybe I'm succeeding. I do enjoy being told I keep getting better with age. It counterbalances many. many things. Even if it is a kind lie.

The trilogy of albums is an end game goal of mine. Plus, I'm having a great time doing it. I feel like both a student (as I relearn these master works) and an accomplished elder, able to combine skill and introspection from loads of varied experiences. It keeps me walking up in the morning.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Daugrin said 1486 days ago (September 22nd, 2015)
I recall a meeting with my wife Feb 2003. The idea was break even was not enough. Shameful yer at a sum zero gain business model. At least it was an excuse to run up a bar tab... Anyway best of luck my friend, I will hope for the break through :)

Check out my latest song called Aroma Therapy
PeterB7858 said 1486 days ago (September 22nd, 2015)
River Ice
Album on the way to Aus from CD Baby. Looking forward to hearing the whole project. Repeated listenings of this will repay the effort, I think. Good luck. Regards, Peter.
Check out my latest song called The Parting Of The Ways
TobinMueller said 1484 days ago (September 24th, 2015)
Disc 2
Thanks. I hope you like the packaging. Spent a lot of time on it. Be careful of re-insterting the booklet, tho. It can tear the pouch. I just leave the booklet loose inside the three panel flaps. It sticks in there pretty well. Enjoy! And, again, thank you for ordering it!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
J_Gretch said 1485 days ago (September 23rd, 2015)
River Ice
This may be my fav thing you have ever posted here...the transitions around the 1:45 and 3:00 marks are wonderful...Will have to check into getting the CDs.
Check out my latest song called Cop or whore
TobinMueller said 1484 days ago (September 24th, 2015)
1:45 and 3:00
It's funny how the writing of a piece can come about. I played that opening section a million more times than the other sections, getting it down just the way I wanted it. By the time I was ready to move on, I needed a change of pace variation, out of my own agitation more than compositional balance. But it really worked out to balance the flowing rush of water of the Icy River, too. The 1:45 section is the catchy part, the part I wanted to highlight on iTunes as a sample. The 3:00 section came from my post-Bach drama and seriousness. But it served really well as a transition into the eventual capitulation. It's that 3:00 part I may not have thought of without spending 6 months on Bach prior.

Really glad you enjoyed this more than anything else. Maybe I am still growing, after all! (And it's not just me talking myself into the feeling)
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
I.G.M. said 1485 days ago (September 23rd, 2015)
but sad, great overlapping of changes.
Good to hear something like this in a world of mainstreaming.
Great work of art in my book.
Greets from Germany

Check out my latest song called Reflexions
TobinMueller said 1484 days ago (September 24th, 2015)
Beautiful but sad
I wanted a sense of darkness in the energy flow of this piece, since it is set in Winter. Yet, the push forward would also give a sense of optimism and prelude. I think it is very hard for me to avoid melancholy in my music. It's where I gravitate naturally. Perhaps that is because I matured as an early pianist during and after my sister's death, and playing piano was my main form of expressing those feelings. Something I've never shaken.

My son is in Heidelberg Germany currently. If you are ever playing anywhere near there, please drop me an email!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Vic Holman said 1485 days ago (September 23rd, 2015)
River Ice
this is one of the most gentle pieces that i have heard of yours, at least to my recollection. a very intricate composition. totally enjoyed.
Check out my latest song called Life In A Car
TobinMueller said 1484 days ago (September 24th, 2015)
Disc 2
Vic, this style is something I use in about half the pieces written for Disc 2 on the album. When I hit upon the style, I thought to myself, "This is what I've been heading toward my entire life. It's what I wanted to play when I was a late teenager but didn't have the sophistication or technique to accomplish. Then I got sidetracked into musical theatre..." You'd really like the first and sixth tracks as well, the bookend pieces that make up the first sonata on Disc 2. Your enjoyment is much appreciated.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
KCsGROOVE said 1484 days ago (September 24th, 2015)
this flows like a river
I like the subtle changes
intriguing piece, quite impressive
very much enjoyed!
Check out my latest song called MUSIC (acoustic)
TobinMueller said 1483 days ago (September 25th, 2015)
Flows like a river
Thanks. One of these days I'll make a music video of this with images of river ice flowing, shifting, subtly changing. I usual do videos when I can't play or practice due to health issues. It's a fun thing to do when on the couch. Better than watching news shows!

So many good music has been written inspired by rivers. No just a wonderful metaphor, but a tactile, visual, emotional source of spiritual empathy, natural wonder, and real world perseverance and flow. I'm glad you enjoyed my take on it all.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Doug Somers said 1484 days ago (September 24th, 2015)
Evolution through flow
I always love to read your artist's notes since it shines a lot of light on your motivations and influences. In this case the topic is one I can say I've experienced directly as far as the natural cycle of the seasons is concerned and I think you've captured the setting really well. The changes in the piece suggest the movement down the stream of the ice which of course changes in its position and speed depending on the banks and any rocks in the flow. To me the other thing this represents is almost allegorical to our experience - sometimes we are fast, sometimes slow, up, down, stuck, free. At any point in time. it may seem like that's all there is until the new reality presents itself as things change.

The other thing is that - to me - you could make this piece almost as long as you want given how you've approached it. Not to say it's too long or too short since it works as it is written. It's more that the setting is so gentle yet engaging, with sufficient variety and change to keep the listener under your spell that it could last as long as you have the desire to weave the spell.

Congrats on your well deserved coverage too. I hope you get a wide audience for your work - it would be to anyone's benefit to encounter it.

Another really nice one, and again, thanks for the download!
Check out my latest song called Western Stranger
TobinMueller said 1483 days ago (September 25th, 2015)
...until things change
Too true, Doug. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, sometimes turned all topsy turvy, sometimes smooth and clear, sometimes straight, sometimes meandering. But something about a river casts a spell (like fire). It's constantly shifting and replaced surface, prism reflections, sense of life and life-giving. I love the sound of rivers. Luckily, I spent a great deal of time backpacking into pristine backwaters in my younger days, so I can still hear the sound of the river even as traffic and urban noise tries to cover it up.

You're welcome for the download. The people who keep MacJams afloat in this wash of change and time deserve a continuation of free sharing, for sure.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
thetiler said 1481 days ago (September 27th, 2015)
Like how you mix jazz with a nature feel
Which I would think is very hard to do and takes a lot of years to perfect. I'm with Doug, listening your your comments while hearing the wonderful sounds and expressions of what you say through music and the notes is really valuable to my understanding! It's been a pleasure to be around macjams and on occasion have the benefit of interacting which such a dedicated musical artist !
Check out my latest song called They Went Underground
TobinMueller said 1480 days ago (September 28th, 2015)
Jazz and nature
It's interesting, I'm playing Chopin right now, arranging it with my personal sense of modal jazz/New Age/showtune piano, and reading about Chopin as I do. Several of his pieces are said to be inspired by nature: rainfall, gardens, wild settings, storms... From listening to the music, I cannot tell the specifics of the inspiration, even tho the music is superb. Nature is a force inside me, more a memory I think as I sit indoors far more nowadays, but a strong memory and meditative guide.

When I was a music student, I had the good fortune of watching a masterful pianist professor take a simply bird call, five note riff, and proceed to play variations on it for 20 minutes. Magical.

I ist in my backyard and listen to a Catbird sing for minutes on end and never repeat itself. And I am inspired. Not necessarily with melodic pattern, as my professor had been, but by the sheer desire to keep making music and never repeating, but forging whatever life and thought has brought into something new and joyous. That mind of sums up where I am in my musical career, currently.

Thanks for sharing here and for continuing to be such a good listener. I truly appreciate you.

Looking forward to hearing from you via email and learning your new mailing address. You'll be getting some music...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Artist Info
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Name: Tobin Mueller
Location: Rowayton CT USA
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I am a professional musician, composer, playwright and director. I've led a charmed life. I'm married to fellow MJer Suzanne and MJer Twonicus is my son, who currently sings and writes for rock bands in the NYC, D.C. and Cleveland areas. My second s... [see more]

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