There is a lot of music about love. I am not sure why most of it is soft and gentle. Love is one of the world's most powerful forces. One cannot touch it or even be precise about what it is. To me, making a statement about love is to make something loud and mysterious and huge.
I wrote Sunshine of Your Love
for the Ensemble Modern Orchestra. I knew that it would be on a program with Ives' Fourth Symphony
and a new work by John Adams, Naïve and Sentimental Music
. John was to conduct, and I asked for every single instrument available and a few more to boot.
The orchestra is divided into four groups consisting of violins, high winds and brass, each tuned one-eighth of a tone apart. Each of these groups is supported by a keyboard tuned similarly. The four groups trade off a melody that ascends and descends in eighth tones. The lower instruments, along with percussion, two electric guitars and two electric basses, support the upper instruments with insistent and driving rhythm.
The title comes from a song by Cream. As a boy, I listened to their album, "Disraeli Gears," over and over while trying to decipher the psychedelic cover. The dark, moody, raw music that accompanied this love song was a revelation to me.