A Suite for Black Lives

I’m still sorting out my feelings about the state of my homeland. It’s easy to feel like no progress is ever made. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Can a nation built on the backs of slaves ever bridge that gap and heal that hurt? I have no idea. But I’m learning to come to terms with my feelings. I’m not a protester. It’s not in my heart to take to the streets crying out “Justice!” And for a long time, I felt guilty for that. After all, I am a black woman from the Southern United States. It’s my people, my brothers and sisters, being slaughtered because of the color of their skin. And I am angered. I am heartbroken. Even though I have a unique point of view from North of the Border, I fear what this tense relationship between Black Americans and the police means for my family. My parents. My brothers. My future children. 

I am not a protester, but I can write. 

In honor of the Black Lives Matter Movement, I have written a three piece piano suite. A Suite for Black Lives. Today, I am making that score available for purchase exclusively on my website. Sixty percent of proceeds from this music will be donated to BLM. You can also watch a video using my friend Zoey’s beautiful performance of the piece here. I cannot do much, but this is something I can do. 

The first piece is “In the Stillness”. I wrote this for Breonna Taylor. Her name is important. Her story is important. “In the Stillness” is full of ethereal dissonance; every chord in the piece has a B-flat somewhere in it, which creates this amazing pulse. It is sweet and gentle while also having a sense of power. 

Second in the suite is “We Cry”, written for Ahmaud Arbery. His name is important. His story is important. In the key of A minor, this piece has a sense of broadness and sorrow, which changes from a cry of despair into a cry of outrage, indicated by the quick moving repeated notes in the left hand. 

Finally, the suite ends with “Up-Rising”, a driving and forceful piece in ⅞ time. I wrote this for George Floyd. His name is important. His story is important. This piece has some complicated rhythms and a sense of continuous motion. In the second half of this piece, the rhythm of the music reflects the rhythm of the phrase “We cry uprising!” echoed in quick succession. 

These pieces are near and dear to my heart. I have largely been writing for choirs, and while I always have some choir music up my sleeve, the current pandemic has put a lot of my choral activity on hiatus. However, I believe these challenges force me to find creative ways to overcome them. And overcome I shall.


Author: lizzielou0320

Composer, performer, teacher, and arranger in the Ottawa area.

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