the constant

This piece takes inspiration in part by a fragment of the Tao Te Ching which reflects the aspects of life and emotion that remain stable during a transitional phase in life. The three phases of the piece utilise similar material in quite diverse ways. An overall arc moves throughout the entire piece which is exhibited musically through the mainly upward melodic and arpeggiated ideas in the first movement and is brought into contrast to the third movement which involves mainly downward motion. Appropriately, the second movement acts as an apogee between these two musical thoughts. This may be considered to symbolise that change comes about through a slow realisation, sudden response, and then gradual acceptance.

I do my utmost to attain emptiness;
I hold firmly to stillness.
The myriad creatures all rise together
And I watch their return.
The teaming creatures
All return to their separated roots.
Returning to one's roots is known as stillness.
This is what is meant by returning to one's destiny.
Returning to one's destiny is known as the constant.
Knowledge of the constant is known as discernment.
Woe to him who wilfully inovates
While ignorant of the constant,
But should one act from knowledge of the constant
One's action will lead to impartiality,
Impartiality to kingliness,
Kingliness to heaven,
Heaven to the way,
The way to perpetuity,
And to the end of one's days one will meet with no danger.

Tao Te Ching,  Book 1 Chapter 16