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The liner notes of the CD offer a brief description of the tracks, but sometimes a single sentence isn't enough to tell the whole story behind a composition. On this page, you can get more details about the album Galaxy. See also: Tim's discography page or the Galaxy CD in the store.
Galaxy: Behind the music
I've been fascinated by space for as long as I can remember, and I always wanted to write a space-themed album. Some of the tracks aren't exactly about space, but about our universe in general: music about nature on this planet, or the inner beauty of people. Other tracks have specific references to space, such as Orbit, Starlight, and Vast.
What should an album about space be named? I considered using "Cosmos" as a title, but then a popular TV show came out last year with that title. I decided on "Galaxy" because, frankly, it's a cool-sounding word! Plus, I realized I could get an appropriate cover image to match that title.
My albums tend to have a general structure and Galaxy was no different. I like to start albums with a lighter track or something that sounds "introductory", to set the mood for the album. Starlight continues the mood, and then the music gets a little more dynamic and dramatic (Orbit, Perspective). Vast, the meditation piece on the album, helps us drift throughout the universe, taking us to Traveling Music, a light interlude to take us into the second half of the album. Tracks 7-10 tend to be the most "poignant" of all the tracks on my albums, and Galaxy is no different. Tapestry, specifically, is an emotional whirlwind of a piece and one of my favorites. Finally, I end with What You Leave Behind, which is meant to have the feeling of finality as a way to close the album.
The cover photo is of the Andromeda Galaxy, and it was provided by Adam Evans of The back image is "Earthrise", taken in December 1968 by an Apollo 8 astronaut. It is probably one of the most famous images of Earth.‬

These are the full images that were used in the artwork for the album. Our universe is an amazing place (and the Hubble telescope is pretty cool too!):
Clockwise from upper left:
  • M31 "Andromeda" Galaxy, credits Adam Evans,
  • "Pillars of Creation" from the Eagle Nebula, credits Hubble Telescope / NASA
  • "Earthrise" from the Apollo 8 mission, credits Bill Anders, NASA astronaut
  • "NGC 3324 from the constellation Carin", credits Hubble Telescope / NASA
Track 1: Preludio
This track is an arrangement of the first movement of Antonín Dvořák's orchestral "Czech Suite." There is a certain quality to the melody of the piece that sort of floats above everything -- it has a very ethereal sound that seemed like a perfect fit for an album about space.
The original title of the Czech Suite movement is usually listed as Preludium or Preludio. I settled on "Preludio" for the title of my arrangement.
The piece is written in D major, like the original orchestral arrangement. My arrangement mostly follows the original, with somewhat less repetition -- orchestras have the ability to repeat without sounding repetitive by switching instrumentation, but piano doesn't have that luxury! My original contribution to the piece starts around 2:10 in the "bridge" of the song.
Track 2: Starlight
Origins and Title
This song was a title-before-track composition, which is common for me: I had the title of the track long before I ever started composing it! I had hoped to compose a piece that has a little "sparkle" in it, with a melody that would sound majestic and star-like.
The piece is written in E major. It starts with a right-hand arpeggio in the upper register that captures the first "twinkle" in the night sky, growing and growing until the full field of stars is visible. The verse (0:41) is four-note motif that gradually builds to the chorus (1:05), the majestic-sounding melody that sounds like it soars above the Earth. The bridge of the piece (3:03) sounds like a dream to me, and finally leads back to the upper registers where I recall the opening melody and finish the song.

While this is track #2 on the album, it was the final piece composed. I had a few ideas for the piece during the year of preparing for this album, but I could never quite put them all together. Fortunately I had these ideas recorded, and when it came time to finish the song I was able to listen to these ideas and pull out the parts that I thought would work best. I'm very proud of the final result, and I hope you are too!
Track 3: Orbit
Origins and Title
As with most of my tracks, I had the title for this song well before I composed it. The goal was to write an energetic piece with some excitement, hopefully with a sound that emulated traveling in circles.
The piece is written in C minor, with an abrupt key change in the middle to A-flat minor (seven flats!). I use 16th notes in the left hand throughout, and there are a number of dynamic changes that make this piece interesting to the listener. I play the piece with rubato, including little instances of speeding up or slowing down, giving it a sense of "push and pull", very much how I envision the feeling of being in Orbit.

It all adds up to this: Orbit is one of my most fun compositions to play.
Track 4: Perspective
Origins and Title
As with most of my tracks, I had the title for this song well before I composed it. The inspiration for this title is something called the "overview effect", which is a cognitive shift that many astronauts experience. When viewing Earth from space, astronauts observe that national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society becomes both obvious and imperative. I chose the term "Perspective" to represent this cognitive shift. (I also happen to prefer one-word titles when possible!)
The piece is written in B minor and in 3/4 time. I start the piece with a melancholy verse and chorus, and then the second verse and chorus build the tension more until about 2:00 where the bridge theme takes over. This is the part of the song where I envisioned the new "perspective" taking place and eyes/minds being opened, and the theme is played rather triumphantly. I leave the bridge playing sweeter while referring to the original theme, and I finally end with what I think is one of my most graceful song endings ever (starting at 2:55). The ending seems like it is wishful and hopeful, and that a new peaceful beginning is starting. The world would be so lucky to start anew with peace!

I also should point out that my wife had a hand in making a small but important change to this song, and I can't imagine the piece sounding any other way than it does now! Glad to have her input into my songs!
Track 5: Vast
Origins and Title
Each of my albums includes a "meditation" track, which is a track that I hope will allow the listener to slow down and take a deep breath. This is the first album I have released where the word "Meditation" does not appear in the track name of the meditation track; "Vast", as a single word, just seemed to have a better feel. I'm never sure how listeners will receive these "meditation" pieces, but this track is easily one of the favorites of both reviewers and listeners.
The piece is written in the C major key signature, although the actual tone center is a bit ambiguous. With a space-themed album, I wanted to create a track that was very open sounding, with some mystery and lots of whole notes to let the sound of the piano resonate. My inspiration for this piece was to envision what it must be like to float through space.
Track 6: Traveling Music
Origins and Title
The opening 20 measures or so of this track comes from an idea I've had for a very long time. In fact, when I started working on this again, my wife said "wait, that's not a finished song yet? I've heard that for years!" I always had the title "Traveling Music" for that music, but I never got around to finishing the track. I thought the music sounded like an interlude, and this album seemed to have the perfect spot for this track, so I finally finished the composition and put it right in the middle of the album. An interlude indeed!
The piece is written in A major with a key change to D major. There's not too much to say about the music in this piece. It's a very happy and lively tune, and I think you'll like it!
Track 7: The Inner Light
Origins and Title
As is common for me, I had the title "The Inner Light" for many years, and I only got around to composing music to capture this title when I started writing this track. The title comes from a short work of fiction for film, a very touching and sweet story. My goal with this piece was to write something that sounds gentle and innocent, with multiple pauses and points of reflection.
The piece is written in A-flat major, and the first three notes mimic a flute theme that is used in the original work. The simplicity and innocence of the song can be heard in sections similar to 0:33-0:49, which is nothing more than a single repeated note. The bridge (2:00) changes the mood a bit, sounding slightly more "celebratory" and dramatic, but ultimately returning to the one repeated note, and finally to the original theme for closure.
Track 8: Tapestry
Origins and Title
The title "Tapestry" comes from the idea of a person's life being "woven" together in such a way that it's hard to pull certain parts out without everything being unraveled. There are positive experiences and negative times in a life, but those things all combine to make you you, and I wanted to capture as many emotions in this piece as possible.

I always knew this track would be the most "poignant" and longest on the album, and I also knew that with this title I needed to have a few motifs in the piece that would return from time to time. There were times when I really struggled with this piece, to the point where I literally almost scrapped the entire work because I couldn't get everything to fit how I wanted. Right after almost giving up, I moved two little sections around and finally the entire work seemed to make sense!

I should note that during the composition of this song, the mother of one of my long-time friends passed away. This is a woman who I knew literally all my life. Every time I play or hear this piece, I think of how sad it was to attend her funeral. (She died of ALS, certainly too early for someone who had as much energy as she did!)
The piece is written in B-flat minor and features a motif with a dotted-eighth that gives a certain movement to the piece that I really enjoy. The piece starts with the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge form, but at around 3:00 the mood changes and I begin a new theme that is filled with dynamic changes and intensity. At around 4:00, I recall the original bridge theme, and then return back to the "intensity", building until about 5:00, where there is resolution into D-flat major. At about 5:20, I start the long ending of the piece, a one-minute play on the dotted-eighth motif that captures the sweetness and the beauty of life. Along with Perspective, the ending of Tapestry is one of my favorite song endings that I can remember composing.

This was one of the favorite tracks of fans when I was releasing music track-by-track. I think it will be one of the enduring songs on the album, and I hope you will enjoy it!
Track 9: Sweet Little Evening Melody
Origins and Title
The final version of this song is almost a note-for-note copy of an improvisation that I created in the summer of 2012. After an evening walk with my wife, I sat at the piano and played this -- thankfully I was recording it! I added this song to the Galaxy album as a reminder that there's beauty on this Earth too, not just in space. I had the title for this song immediately, since it was just a sweet little melody that I played one evening. When I play this song or hear it, I picture the sun, low in the sky, peeking through the green trees from our yard -- very much the conditions at the time when it was first improvised.
The piece is written in F major, and as an improv it doesn't exactly have a firm structure, but it is close to the common verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus form. Technically, the song is not difficult to play, however from a performance perspective (with no sheet music) it's a bit of a challenge, because nothing is ever repeated exactly. It's just a sweet, gentle piece, and I'm glad I was recording the music on that summer day in 2012!
Track 10: Night
Origins and Title
Nighttime is serene and often mysterious. Since the album is called Galaxy, I wanted to write a track to capture those moods. As is often the case for me, I had the title of this track long before I had composed it.
The piece is written in C-sharp minor, with the common verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse form. I use the lower register of the piano frequently in the harmony, with lots of pauses to let the piano sound resonate. One of my favorite sections of the entire Galaxy album is the bridge in this song, which is played on the very highest parts of the piano; this section really sounds like stars to me. I'm very proud of this composition in general, and I captured the moods exactly as I had hoped.
Track 11: Time's Arrow
Origins and Title
When we discuss space, we often discuss time -- the age of the universe, the time it would take to travel vast distances to other stars, and so on. I had the title "Time's Arrow" almost from the beginning of this project, although this ended up being one of the final tracks that I composed.
The piece is written in E minor, in a very steady 4/4 time. My goal in this composition was to keep a very steady beat, almost like the constant tick-tock of a clock. (Science nerds will have to bear with me -- yes, I realize that time can actually slow down and speed up based on velocity and gravity!) The challenge in this piece was to compose something that is interesting to a listener without any tempo changes. (And I hope I accomplished this!) The only tempo change is a "poco rit" in the final measure of the song.

I start this piece with a single repeating B note introduction (as the tick-tock), followed by verse and chorus, verse and chorus, then the bridge, returning back to the verse and ultimately to the repeating B note to finish the song.
Track 12: What You Leave Behind
Origins and Title
I stumbled on the words "What You Leave Behind" at some point, and I thought it would make a great song title. When I researched the topic, I found a couple quotes that use these words; the quote I prefer is from the Greek leader Pericles: "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." This quote really speaks to me, as I hope to live a life that is important to others. Music has been the way for me to touch the lives of others, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
The piece is written in A major. Knowing this would be the final track on the album, I wanted to create a melody and a mood that had some sense of finality. The very end of the piece (starting around 2:30) really brings the album to a close.