Sunday, February 4, 2024

Perenepsis XXIII -- 2 a.m.: Another Nightmare

The subtitle "2 a.m." here refers to the approximate time of day (night) this idea first came to me; it is another slow "nightmare"-type Perenepsis, akin to #5 (located here on YouTube) from way back in 2013. Like #5, this is almost atonal, but not quite, but also definitely not tonal, nor is it serial. It just is. Delicate ears might want to skip this one, as there is a more user-friendly entry coming any day now. For the background, I was looking for a late night photo of a dark sky, but this abstract watercolor from Circe Denyer seemed to provide the correct mood better than any photos I could find.

Now, I was planning to alternate piano and string quartet pieces for a while, but it seems that the piano pieces are multiplying like bunnies, so next up will be Perenepsis XXIV (Skipping Steps), and then another "color" piece for string quartet (either Yellow or Silver), followed by Perenepsis XXV and XXVI, then the other quartet, and then Perenepsis XXVII, at which point I'll need to finish something else (if that hasn't happened by then). This will get me up to 10 before the end of March, leaving me 9 months to finally hit my goal of 12 new pieces in a year, something that wouldn't be much of a challenge if I didn't keep on coming up with new ideas that steal my attention from ones that are nearly done... or if I had no other interests to take my time, such as sleeping.

Monday, January 8, 2024


 Here's something for string quartet. As you can see from the title, this took a couple of years to complete, the problem being that I came up with three different treatments of the same idea that starts with rising fourths, and after trying to pick which I liked best, I finally decided on just throwing them all together, and since the idea itself is rooted in D (more quartal than major or minor), I used an A7 chord to punctuate the three sections, and also as an introduction. The first part has half notes as the fundamental unit, the second goes to quarter notes, and the third to eighth notes, so each section gets faster even though the underlying tempo doesn't change. This piece is also a demonstration of my belief that the string quartet is an inherently contrapuntal genre. Sure, you can write for string quartet without using counterpoint, but it seems kind of a waste.

The background image is courtesy of Lynn at 4Artseasons; it's a pecan tree, chosen for the color, and for the three pecans representing the three sections of the piece.

Next week: Another piano piece; just need to decide which one it'll be -- Perenepsis 23 through 26 are all ready, 26 having been started last Friday and finished today. I'll probably get 23 out of the way first, as it's my least favorite.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Happy New Year!

 So this is 2024... not sure if I like it yet, but I'm determined to post 12 pieces this year, and I'll start with this cheerful little thing in C minor. Don't worry, it does spend a few seconds in E-flat major:

I'll let this be the new guy for a couple days, then a little something for string quartet.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Conversation With a Tree (Oak)

 This one came as a surprise. I was looking through scores yesterday afternoon and came across this one, which was dated 2021, but I had forgotten all about it. It needed just a couple small tweaks, all but one being dynamics and articulation. The only thing that makes sense is that it was written so quickly that I didn't get around to playing with it; I must've  written it all in one or two sittings. And for some reason, it seemed important at the time to specify that the tree in question is an oak. I don't remember why.

The main idea is stated right at the beginning -- an upward minor third, a pretty simple motif. It appears initially in the basses -- B/D (B minor) -- followed by col legno strings to emphasize the wooden nature of trees. It's not just minor thirds everywhere -- other themes appear as well -- but while most of the minor thirds are B/D, the trumpets get it on A/C, there are other, more disguised ones in other keys (including E/G), and finally it lands on F#/A before ending back in B. I could've dissected it and added more detail or expanded it (no percussion apart from a few notes from the piano), but since I didn't really remember all of my thinking at the time, I decided that it was already doing what it was supposed to do, so here it is:

Tuesday, October 3, 2023


 Another color piece for string quartet, this one started while working on Brown. It's in F Major, but it takes a while to get there. The first violin opens with ascending fourths while the second violin traces a G minor chord, with the lower voices providing punctuation between episodes. Then the viola and cello get the melody, this time a winding figure, with the violins providing punctuation, leading to a cadence on F-sharp major. This is repeated with some changes, leading into a brief contrapuntal passage in F major (finally) that ends up landing on an A major chord. Then we go through the thing a third time, this one ending up in a somewhat longer contrapuntal passage leading directly into a short coda that ends definitively in F major. Sounds like a lot of stuff, but it's over in less than two minutes:

Next up will probably be Brown, which will be a little longer and calmer. All that's left is an ending and one bar somewhere in the middle that needs fixing.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Seven Haiku for Oboe

 Inspired by a haiku posted yesterday on a discussion board, I thought it might be interesting to use the 5-7-5 haiku structure to write a short piece of music, and to keep it simple I decided to make it for a solo instrument, choosing the oboe (although the range is such that it could also be played on violin, viola, trumpet, flute or clarinet without transposition). But 17 notes wouldn't be enough, so I made it a series of seven haiku that trace the progress of a day:

I. Dawn

II. Sunrise

III. Mockingbird

IV. Noon Approaches

V. Afternoon Rainfall

VI. The Sun Shines Through Again

VII. Sunset Brings Day to a Close

Each haiku consists of three phrases, containing 5, 7 and 5 notes, in three measures of 7/8, 11/8 and 13/8, except for the final measure in 17/8 to represent the 17-syllable total length of a haiku. 

I know it's not as good as a cat video, but whole thing is only a minute and a half long, so you just as soon listen to it.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Perenepsis XIX (There Are No Words)

 This one has been "done" for a couple months now, and I finally decided to finalize it to prevent myself from continuing to add to it. While it's still a few seconds under 2 minutes, when it was first "completed", it was only a little over a minute and a half; 20-25 seconds might not seem like much, but in terms of percentage, that's about 25% growth, so I had to stop it. That was the right place to stop it, anyway.

This is based on the idea of combining unrelated chords, such as the opening chord, which is simple a B major chord (inverted) over an F major chord (also inverted), which share no common notes. I find it interesting that combining two major chords can produce such a non-major sound. Various combinations are used throughout, some "tame" ones actually sharing one common note (but never two).

As for the subtitle, it has a meaning relevant to the piece. I'll let you guess.