Best Music Spotlight

James Hawken – Pause for Thought

Photograph of the blog post author, Jonathan Robinson

Jonathan Robinson

27.8.2020

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Solo instrumental performances are often unique in their composition. While all the same compositional methods as any formation could well be applied, the connection between the performer and instrumentation is always translated in some way. Pause for Thought has a distinct intimacy and emotional charge to its delivery that makes it much more than melody and harmony.

Pause for Thought

At just three seconds in the tone has been set. A weighty, melancholy feel takes hold and begins to carry the work. This feeling is more the motif of the work than any of the compositional content necessarily needs to be. 

The repeating themes carry the work from section to section and keep it sonically engaging. However, the slight stuttering, the ever-changing dynamic shifts in performance and the lack of strict timing are the focus. These moments are not rare, and in fact follow one another to form the duration of the work. From every keyed note it is made clear that this piece is distinctly human.

Structurally, there is a pattern to follow if you want it. However, the work doesn’t lean heavily on guiding the listener. Rather it meanders on through its articulation and gently morphs between phrases. All the while a unique solemnity is sustained.

Though clearly a melancholy work, the progressions are dashed with a certain lightness. Adding substance to the piece is the mix of major quality and tensions in the harmonic makeup. Somehow the down feel and the heaviness is offset with a slight hopeful clarity. For its simplicity, and for its heart, Pause for Thought is a moment worth noting.

  • Overall rating: 9/10
  • Pairs well with: Etude No.2 – Philip Glass

James Hawken

“Born and raised in the clay villages of Cornwall. I was lucky enough that my parents had a piano and I first sat at a piano stool aged 7. At 12 or 13 I started teaching myself to play modern rock/pop piano and by age 14 became a semi-pro. After playing in cover bands I’m now producing original solo work with the piano as the predominant sound and in a mixture of styles.”

Stream ‘Pause for Thought’ on Spotify:

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