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Crimson Sheet – 8 Q’s With Matthew Weaver

matthew weaver crimson sheet

Matthew Weaver is an accomplished American composer and songwriter whose music has been performed by some of the most prominent musicians and ensembles in the world. He is a Masters graduate from the prestigious Boston Conservatory of Music. Over the last two decades he has created an extensive catalog of genre-bending solo work and collaborations with high-profile artists like Claire Chase, Boston Musica Viva, Ayca Cetin, and The ICE Ensemble.

“Crimson Sheet” is the latest release from Matthew Weaver, available worldwide via all major streaming services. The piece is performed by award-winning soprano Caroline Joy and pianist Jordi Castella. It was recorded at St. Giles Church in the United Kingdom. To coincide with the single, Weaver released a powerful live performance video of the recording on his YouTube channel.

The piece opens on a melancholy piano ballad as Caroline Joy introduces her operatic soliloquy. She delivers poetic observation on death as rebirth, as viewed from the perspective of a falling leaf. That dichotomy of life and death is played out in the composition of “Crimson Sheet” as the music alternates between joyous exaltation and melancholy introspection.

Watch the “Crimson Sheet” video below. You can also hear the song on the Deep Indie Jazz playlist, or listen on your favorite streaming service. We had the chance to chat with Matthew Weaver about the piece. Read his answers to our 8 questions. And follow the links at the end of this article to connect with the artist.

“Crimson Sheet” by Matthew Weaver, for Soprano (Caroline Joy) & Piano (Jordi Castella)

8 Q's with Matthew Weaver about Crimson Sheet

matthew weaver

Where are you from?

Chattanooga, Tennessee

How long have you been making music?

16 years

Who are the musicians involved in “Crimson Sheet” ?

Jordi Castella (Piano), Caroline Joy (Soprano)

Who are your biggest musical influences?

It’s difficult to say. I listen to a wide range of composers from Palestrina to Penderecki. I suppose I tend to zoom in on moments that make the hair stand up on the back of my neck and let it fuel/inspire me to create those same kinds of moments in my music if possible.  

Besides these kinds of transcendental moments, I’ve always been heavily influenced by the Fugues of and contrapuntal writing of Bach.  Although there are no fugues in the “Crimson Sheet” piece, I love writing in this medium because I think it evokes transcendence; they create a perpetual motion that seems to spiral into infinity.

What is your greatest non-musical influence?

I’d have to say sacred geometry. I first became intrigued by this idea in music theory class when we learned about how Bela Bartok’s music followed the Fibonacci sequence and utilized the golden mean. The golden mean is a mathematical truth that exists throughout the universe. And within art, it has long been regarded as a symbol of beauty and perfection. 

For example, Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings use it as a way to achieve balance and harmony, and the great architects from the renaissance used the golden mean in the construction of their cathedrals to point to the divine. I enjoy using it in my music because I think it creates a well balanced form in the end.

What inspired you to create “Crimson Sheet” ?

The project evolved from a pretty dark place in my life. Although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the sound of the music, It came from a poem I wrote shortly after I moved to China 6 years ago. The poem reads:

I am a frail crimson sheet
Weathered by yellow age

When at last
It is my time
I will fly away from my little branch

Where the eagles soar I’ll be
Where the mighty roars I’ll see
Where all life grew before me
I’ll be free and sing at last

I will fly away from my little branch 
On the wings of the wind

I will begin a new voyage 
Where the oak green ends

On the wings of the wind 

When I wrote this poem, I was suffering from severe insomnia and chronic migraines. I thought I was going to die from exhaustion, and I wrote this with the idea of death in mind. After writing it, years went by, and I finally set the text to music. While I would say it is something definitely born from pain, my music is a refuge from pain for me. I believe life brings enough pain, so I try to transmute that pain into light and create a better experience through music rather than use music as a kind of mirror image of the struggles. 

Another key element for this work is that I wanted Crimson Sheet to subtly reference the french composer Lili Boulanger because she had serious chronic health problems, and I felt like I could personally relate to her in that way. I paraphrased her a bit by writing a variation of a chord progression that briefly appears in one of her works called “Glades in the sky”. When I borrow musical ideas like this, I always tend to use it for the purpose of symbolism. In this case, I’m pointing to a kind of shared experience both of us seem to have gone through.

Sadly, within a week after I wrote Crimson Sheet, my cousin who had been suffering from severe Kidney Disease and problems for many years, took his life. So, I found it fitting to dedicate this work to him and his memory. This is why his name appears at the end of the video. 

There’s so much more I could say about this, but I don’t want to give you a dissertation because I’m sure that would be very boring to read.

What are your plans for the future (musically)?

I suppose I will try to finish up the projects I have going on. I’m working on creating a sonata for every major instrument like the composer Hindemith did. I’m working on violin, clarinet, flute, and oboe sonatas at the moment. 

Also, I’m working on trying to finish a big piece for choir. These days I write very slowly, so I hope to finish these pieces. Also, I’m constantly trying to refine my style. My personal rule is that my next piece should always be better than my previous one in terms of technique. 

Is there anything else you would like to say?

I think the above covers it all.