About the Piece
Written for Daniel Oshiro (Saxophone) for his M.M. Recital. Premiered by Daniel Oshiro and Christi Zuniga (Piano) on Nov. 1st, 2019 at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Campus.
Daniel Oshiro was the first person I met as a graduate student, right before the Music Theory Diagnostic exam for all entering graduate students. I knew from the moment I met him that I wanted to write a piece for him, only strengthened later on by listening to the masterful technique and musicality that Daniel brings to his instrument.
Automatic thoughts, a concept in cognitive behavioral therapy, are images or mental activity that occur as a response to an event. They are automatic and "pop-up" or "flash" in your mind without conscious thought. Automatic thoughts have three parts: the Event (something happens), the resulting Automatic Thought of that Event, and finally the Feeling or Response to that automatic thought. Automatic thoughts can be beneficial. For example, you are driving and it starts raining very heavily. Automatically you think “I need to be careful.” This thought leads to feelings of anxiety that cause you to drive more carefully.
Automatic thoughts can also have negative effects for people who have trouble with depression or anxiety. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I wanted to musically represent what it feels like to be stuck in an “automatic thought loop,” where the Feeling at the end of the automatic thought chain acts as an Event, which starts a whole new cycle over again. These often can result (for me personally, at least) in panic attacks.
In the music, you’ll hear a “state of mind” represented at the beginning that is slowly but surely interrupted and morphed by this negative thought loop, eventually bringing instant panic and moments of great tension that intensify. However, the loop is eventually broken in a glorious release. The state of mind from the beginning of the work reappears, changed as the automatic thought that started the whole cycle growls quietly as it fades into the shadows— not gone, but temporarily forgotten. We all have mental health needs, to some degree. Your mental health is just as important as your physical one, and like you would hire a trainer to help you get in shape or go to a doctor when you’re sick, so you should seek professional help with your mental health when you need it (however small the need may seem). I hope you enjoy this piece of music, and more importantly walk away from this experience knowing that if you suffer from a less than perfect mental health, you’re not broken, and you’re not alone.
See the Score: