for solo piano

Written: TBD
Duration: ca. 36'
Instrumentation: solo piano
Commission TBD
PublisherBill Holab Music


The Topography of Tears is inspired by a series of photographs of the same name by photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher. Fisher spent time capturing images of one-hundred tears through a microscope. In her own words, “The project began in a period of personal change, loss, and copious tears. One day I wondered if my tears of grief would look any different from my tears of happiness, and I set out to explore them up close, using tools of science to make art and to ponder personal aesthetic questions."

The composition of each tear reflects its chemistry. Different combinations of water, minerals, oils, proteins, hormones, antibodies and enzymes—and other variables such as the viscosity, evaporation rate, and even the microscope’s settings—coalesce, creating distinct images that look like aerial views of some kind of alien terrain. Like fingerprints, snow flakes, or perhaps even live performances, no tears are exactly the same. Each one is a microcosm of human experience, a virtual drop in an ocean.

From Fisher’s images, I chose a selection that represent a wide range of emotions, and I also use her poetic titles as technical points of departure.