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Floating Along In Uncertainty With Vijay Iyer

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Ebru Yildiz/Courtesy of the artist

Ebru Yildiz/Courtesy of the artist

At this time last year, Morning Edition was looking for ways to chronicle, and through that make sense of a consequence a dramatic as anything in holocene memory. We turned to music about immediately, and specifically our Song Project — asking musicians to write an original sung about their feel of the commotion. Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show contributed the first gear birdcall of the serial, and gave us something of a thesis statement for the stick out to boot. “ We as songwriters, ” he said, “ we got tantalum keep adding to the canon of songs about America, because we need to update it — these are troubling times, and we need fresh songs about our area, to inspire one. ” now, after 25 entries, we ‘ve arrived at our last, from the celebrated composer and pianist Vijay Iyer. “ surely, ” Iyer says of his experience over the by year, “ there ‘s the many waves of anxiety and refer, not just about any one person getting nauseated but about the apathy to it, from the most knock-down people on the satellite. Communities of color being disproportionately impacted, the imprison … that was infuriating to me. Carrying all of this confusion and personnel casualty and anxiety and rage, all at the same time, does a number on your body. You ‘re carrying that feeling for months and months. ”

Vijay Iyer, “Supernatant”


Rachel Martin: When you say it takes a toll on your body, what did that mean for you? Vijay Iyer: Wrinkles on my face, [ Laughs ], crow ‘s feet – that ‘s where I see it, but I besides feel it in my neck, my shoulders. As something you ‘re carrying, basically. I have to acknowledge the fact that it is strange to ask you, a jazz composer who does not work with the spoken word, to assign words to discuss your piece… [ Laughs ] What it actually is, is precisely unconscious mind things, that happen beneath the surface. When I ‘m making anything, I equitable have to let that happen and try to tap into it, open up and listen to what ‘s coming through me. I do n’t inevitably judge it, or try to frontload it with conceptual baggage or anything like that. I barely let it emerge, and then I decide whether I want to work with it or not. You say your piece, “Supernatant,” sounds different to you each time you hear it – how did it feel today? It made me smile a few times, because it begins in what I thought at the time was this sensitive, childlike way – but hearing it today, it felt unstable and about lurch. It was supposed to be … gentle. But it kinda felt like, “ Whoa, what is going on here ? ” [ Laughs ] I think what it last embodies – to get to your question about what it ‘s about or what it ‘s doing — if the first copulate of minutes are inner, or in, what happens is that it breaks open to what feels to me like a battalion, a sense of us. What it feels like to be among others again.

What ‘s possibly most appropriate for this, our closing submission in the Song Project series, is that Iyer ‘s objet d’art never in full resolves — this dynamic, slenderly contentious musical conversation just keeps going, never quite leaving you at ease. “ To let it ride out that way, ” Iyer explains, “ not in the smell that ‘Okay, we ‘re done, pandemic ‘s over ‘ – it is n’t, at all. But knowing that we ‘re still in it, there ‘s a common sense that we can, in measured ways, gather again. And explore what that means, in an unsolved way … which is the direction ahead. ”