The Lake Studies

In 1978, I was fortunate enough to be among ten people in Vermont, in the US, to be awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the state Arts Council. We were modestly funded for nine months in order to improve our creative and business skills, in the hopes that we could gain a toehold as self-sustaining artists, as well as to share our work with the public, our neighbors.

I chose to compose a suite of piano pieces about Lake Champlain. I had spent many hours on its shores, both wandering and sitting, absorbing the peacefulness of the place. And it was this quiet sense of sanctuary which I most wished to embody in the music, as well as the songs of birds and the varying colors of the weather and times of day.

I had composed very small pieces before, but this was my first large project. While I felt very tentative, even ambivalent, about this project as it emerged, it turned out to be far more cohesive than I could have ever imagined, coming in fits and starts, finally being recorded for air play on radio. Parts of it were rerecorded two years later and released on disk. I am still somewhat mystified by the lack of precedent for it in my previous music.

The suite seems to have stood up well, though, over the last three decades. Acceptance for it has grown, especially among other creative people - painters, dancers, and poets - who have often said they liked to work while hearing this music. I take this as a very special kind of compliment, though many people have told me they enjoy a certain peacefulness about the music, and that is very gratifying to hear also. (Parts of it have even been played in birthing rooms.)

I am very pleased to be now able to share this music with a wider audience, and hope that 'The Lake Studies' will bring you a little of the peace and beauty I know so well from living for a very long time just a minute's walk from Lake Champlain.

 

2012: The Complete 'Lake Studies' remastered

One person who heard the original Lake Studies is Andrew Skeoch. He had come across the music in the 1980s, and took a chance contacting me on Facebook, asking if I was the composer.

We struck up a correspondence. I discovered that Andrew seemed to understand the spirit and intention I put into the work better than anyone ever had, and he could put these things into words. I recognized that he really understood what this music was meant to do. This is an extremely gratifying thing for a musician to hear, and very rare as well.

I also found that he is a professional audio engineer and sound recordist, with considerable experience of remastering analogue recordings. He was willing to see if we could come up with a new compilation of the Lake Studies, complete and sonically restored.

We went back to the original tapes, recorded to two-track over the summer of 1978 in The New Music Building Recital Hall at the University of Vermont, Burlington. These tapes, now over thirty years old, had to be first baked in an oven to restore the tape matrix itself, prior to being transfered to the digital medium.

Andrew then painstakingly and very successfully worked on unifying the sonic elements of these takes, which had been recorded on six different occasions, a week apart.

This remaster includes all the pieces I had originally worked on in the grant period, plus two more written a little after.

I am very glad that I can now offer all of these pieces, as a whole sequence, and very grateful to Andrew for making this both possible and enjoyable. They represent to me a unique distillation of my life and music; and, though done relatively early in my span of years, I think they are likely to be the most enduring of my works.

 

 

All materials on this site © Lar Duggan 2012