While composing the opera The Long Walk, I lived with my mother in order to save money and time; the opera’s development timeline had been, in a grand feat of understatement, “accelerated,” and every single one of my many deadlines was unreasonable, impossible, completely insane.
My mother made us dinner every night for the years I was working on the opera, and every night she brought my plate to me in my room so I could keep working while I ate. And every night, as I looked up from my screen just long enough to take the plate and smile and thank her for it, she said, “There’s more of everything.”
She was, of course, talking about the food. It would be years before I could hear the deeper meaning, before I could feel that simple sentence ring me like a bell as a way of being in the world.
I was in such scarcity-mind back then: There was never enough time, never enough money, never enough living space, never enough work space, never enough time with friends, never enough friends—I’d lived in New York City long enough to see most of my friends move away in at least three mass migrations—never enough touch, never enough quiet, never enough adventure, never enough sleep, never enough energy, never enough love, never enough solitude, never enough belonging. I was never enough, too: never creative enough, never fast enough, never disciplined enough. Never enough, never enough, never enough.
In the years following The Long Walk’s premiere, I fell into a deep depression. I wrote very little music, and what little I did write sounds depressed: slow, sparse, supine, haunted by silence. In search of that silence—or, more truthfully, fleeing the noise—I left New York City for the small city in mostly-rural, remote western Colorado where my partner, Will, had just begun nursing school. Once I was there, I became fixated on a thought that wouldn’t leave me alone: “Find your fast music.”
I first encountered the music of violist/composer Anne Lanzilotti and modular synthesist/bassist Gahlord Dewald’s cheekily named improv duo The Yes & a short drive from my new home, at The Tank Center for Sonic Arts in Rangely, CO. A music venue made from an immense old water tank, the space has become nationally famous for its extreme resonance. What I heard was transformative: this semi-electronic music was buzzing, crackling with the organic messiness of nature. It seemed both fast and slow at the same time, growing in many directions at once, root and branch, but not at all wandering or aimless.
When it came time to write this piece for the Aspen Music Festival & School, I was sick of writing slow, sparse, sad music. I wanted to write something fast, loud, joyous, mycelial— something that moved and flowed like natural systems, seemingly chaotic but with its own inhuman logic and intelligence. I wanted grooves, tunes, beautiful chords, sure, but also wild textures, inscrutable polyrhythms, rigorous formal procedures. I wanted music at once dizzyingly complex and diverse but also laser-focused, breathless, unstoppable. I was done with scarcity-mind; I wanted it all. This piece, I decided, would be about abundance.
There’s More of Everything is dedicated, with more gratitude and love than I can ever express, to my mother, Judy Beck.
– Jeremy Howard Beck