When Mary Martin Stockdale develops her own contributions to New Age Music, she lends a degree of authenticity to them from which other musicians may not have benefited. For she grew up in rural Michigan, amid the streams and horses and birds and meadows and woods. And now she lives in Colorado, where she continues to enjoy the inspiration of nature amid the streams and horses and birds and meadows and woods. The streams and horses and birds and meadows and woods appear in her music too, at least thematically, as she conveys on solo piano her impressions of the serenity and personal meaning arising from living close to nature.
Her music, thus, converts nature into a series of connected musical themes, much as does some of the restful and reassuring music that one buys on CD at resorts to remind a visitor of the movement of the wind or the sight of a sunrise. So, nary a flatted fifth is heard, nor a major ninth chord. Rather Stockdale’s notions of nature involve in large part tonic, dominant and subdominant chords in rubato tempos, with the fluttering of notes in the treble clef supported by left-hand patterns of single-note movement rather than chords.
Beyond Stockdale’s literal descriptions of the natural surroundings that affect her, she takes her music to another level, adding a third layer to her observations. So, instead of merely musically describing the construction of a fence along her property line in "Runnin’ Fence," Stockdale intends as well to take a cue for Robert Frost and use the image, visual and sonic, of fences to symbolize the boundaries created between human beings as well. Or "Appearances." The sauntering melody, darker and more chord-based than most of her other songs, goes beyond what she sees with her eyes and implies the depth of meaning under the surfaces of initial perception. You get the idea.
Recalling scenes of nature, and going within herself to bring out surroundings of significance in her life, Stockdale evokes the quiet moments of wonder when we have the luxury of forgetting about the rush of everyday life and contemplate the unsolved and unsolvable puzzles that have stirred the imagination of human beings for millennia.