It has always seemed to me that the organ is more solidly weighted to the earth than heavenly in aspect. The largeness of the instrument surrounds everything, pulling all towards its center. The grounded steadiness provides ballast for other instruments which, by contrast, seemed poised for flight.
I was thinking about these lines from John Donne’s poem Air and Angels.
… Whilst thus to ballast love I thought, And so more steadily to have gone, With wares which would sink admiration, I saw I had love’s pinnace overfrought; …
Linda Pastan’s The Bookstall, which I set to music more than twenty years ago, writes about books in this way.
… And I hold them, one in each hand, a curious ballast weighting me here to earth.
Ballast, a concert piece for viola and organ, is composed for the Rodland Duo. It addresses the balances between weightiness and lightness, and the pull that one has upon the other.