Notes of Daybreak is a song cycle for high voice and piano, based on the poetry of Walt Whitman. The texts for each of the four movements come from the Whitman poems of the same name. Each movement is written in a different style, allowing each song to have its own feel and emotional impact. In every case, the text was relied upon heavily to shape the structure and melody. The accompaniment utilizes many techniques, arpeggios, snippets of the melody, traditional chords and harmonies, octatonicism, and various rhythmic devices, to support the soloist.
That Music Always Round Me was originally intended to be a standalone song, rather than the first song in a cycle, however after writing this, I decided I'd like to write more. The setting of the text for this song was begun in late December 2007, making this the only song in the cycle to be started before 2008.
I Heard You Solemn-Sweet Pipes of the Organ, was actually the third song to be composed, and was not nearly as easy as the first two. I struggled to find a unique tone, but after watching Stephen Sondheim's Company, I was inspired by the accompaniment to the song Another Hundred People. After deciding on a similar accompaniment, the song wrote itself.
Writing for voice rather than for instrumental ensemble poses a different host of problems. The third song, The Last Invocation, existed in at least three different manifestations before it received its current treatment. Between being unsure how exactly to set the text, and how to make the accompaniment fit the mood of the text, I was originally unsure of how to go about writing this piece, but eventually I found that a mix of major sonorities of rolled chords suited the piece well.
Finally, the cycle ends with I Hear America Singing, which took inspiration from Carlyle Sharpe's I Hear the Dance-Music of All Nations. This song changed the least from original idea to final product, as one could see from the original sketches. It is also the most challenging of the set due to the varied use of time signatures, which change nearly every bar.