Cadence is a common term in the vocabulary of composers, however, to the average listener, like myself, it’s a foreign concept. Cadence is a chord progression that ends a musical phrase. In Latin, Cado means “to fall.” It also has different meanings in multiple contexts. For example, in cycling, ‘cadence’ is a measurement of a pedals 360-degree rotation. It’s the rhythmic chant of a marching soldier. To a rap artist, it’s a poet’s inflection and the sound of spoken word rising and falling. In other words, cadence produces a sense of closure and gives music the feeling of resolution.
Can you help me understand what cadence is and what role it plays on Music for Staying Warm?
Losing yourself in the cycle.
Chord progressions methodically repeat like a series of sine waves overlayed at various magnitudes. Over time, relationships emerge from repeating lines of cello, violin, viola, and double bass. The instruments intersect in unexpected ways that keep the repetition fresh and exciting. The relationships between layers of sound build cohesion and camouflage the composition’s cadence. Finality is tucked away. In its absence, your only option is to let go and lose yourself in the cycle.
The signature characteristic of Ethiopian Tizita is its absence of cadence. How has Ethiopian Music influenced the trajectory of your work?
An evocation of loneliness.
Listeners might feel melancholy while listening to Music for Staying Warm because Justin Wright’s sound evokes a feeling of loneliness. It brings to mind the American painter Edward Hopper, who famously captured the isolation and solitude of city living. Each repeating layer of Justin Wright’s music is like a figure in a Hopper painting engaged in the small and cyclical routines of life. Some are captured on their way to work, eating dinner, waking up, or on a commute. Similarly, Music for Staying Warm is tinged with sadness but also with acceptance. Like Hopper, who found beauty in the mundane and cyclical quality of living, Justin Wright finds beauty in the irresolute.
Your album title, Music for Staying Warm, seems to counterpoint your music’s sense of longing. Is the album title a contradiction?
Music for Staying Warm by Justin Wright encourages us to let go of desire. It takes a special kind of music to bring a listener to a place of acceptance. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, and sadness may dissuade some from taking the journey. However, if you allow the warm rhythmic patterns of Justin’s cello to guide you, he will make you weightless.
Support and learn more about Justin Wright at his website.
All songs composed by Justin Wright
Violin: Kate Maloney
Additional violin by Taylor Mitz
Viola: Kate Maloney and Simran Singh
Cello: Justin Wright
Upright bass: Alex Kasimir-Smith
Mixed by Pietro Amato at Skybarn
Mastered by Lawrence English
Cover art by Amanda Durepos
Photography by Adrian Villagomez