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This piece is inspired by Lincoln’s eloquent first inaugural address. He closes with a remarkably musical line, referring to the ‘mystic chords of memory’. There is an idealism in this statement, maybe even a naivete that had yet to be clouded by the strain of war, but also a bold sense of purpose and courage. I decided to have a shot at my version of these chords. There is the sweet hopeful tone of pure triads in the opening, that will eventually become more complex and layered, creating a virtual mirror as we look inward.
“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Image: Harper’s Weekly, “The Inaugural Procession at Washington…” 16 March 1861, Library of Congress.
The Lincoln Shuffle
Bryce Dessner is the guitarist for The National and Clogs. Bryce has performed/and or recorded with some of the world’s most creative musicians, including songwriters Antony Hegarty and Sufjan Stevens, Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo, and composers Michael Gordon, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich. In addition to touring with The National, Bryce’s upcoming projects include a new commission for the Kronos Quartet and a new work for BAM”s Next Wave Festival in 2009.
Bryce offers up “The Lincoln Shuffle,” a series of short compositions inspired by Lincoln and the music of his era, featuring primarily brass instruments. Bryce hopes his work will be the seed of an archive that starts to grow, so we invite you to remix his music or create your own.
Composed by Bryce Dessner
Bryce Dessner – Guitar
Aaron Dessner - Guitar
Benjamin Lanz- Trombone
Kyle Resnick- Trumpet
Recorded and Mixed by Bryce Dessner
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