Wednesday, December 17, 2014


This is the new one (for piano) mentioned in the preceding pre-posting post. It's about patience and change. The changes happen slowly at first, but both the magnitude and rate of change increase as it proceeds. It's in 7/4 at a slow tempo, and is in E-flat major (including a little visit to C minor) most of the way through, gradually moving in stages from mostly half and quarter notes, to mostly quarters and eighths, then 16ths with a few eighths, and just after the 32nd notes start, it shifts to F major (via B-flat major), by which point it hardly resembles the opening ideas at all, just as the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis. Finally, at the very end, the rhythm slows back down, and the final three notes echo the first three.

What I didn't really notice until it was almost done were the similarities between this and both Memorandum (minus the encapsulated fugue) and Introit (minus the strings and the symmetrical form). It also includes a brief suggestion of a slightly out-of-kilter waltz, a la Perenepsis #5 (it might finally be time to go back and re-finish #4), and relies heavily on fourths and fifths, a common feature among many of my works.

So, here it is, my final posting of the year, barring an unanticipated lack of distractions (such as yesterday's nearly successful attempt to go up a down escalator that was much higher than the ones I'm used to; doing this right after a big lunch of Italian food was probably not the best idea I've had lately, but if I'm pretty sure that with a slightly quicker pace at the start, I would've beaten it). As mentioned in my previous post, I'll try to do better next year (in terms of both postings and that escalator).

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Pre-Posting Update

Okay, so it looks like I won't be making that target of posting 12 pieces this year. Not even close. So sue me (note to ambulance chasers: I really don't think there are any grounds for a suit, unless I sue myself, which doesn't seem extremely likely at this time). I did have my week off during October, but didn't go to Zwolle, and didn't get much done musically the entire week. I decided instead to go to a more local Oktoberfest celebration, but ended up not even doing that, spending most of that week doing my very convincing impression of a human zucchini... except for the color, as I couldn't hold my breath long enough to reach the proper shade of green. Maybe I should've tried for eggplant instead.

Once I got back to work, though, progress resumed on the music as well. Quite a bit, actually, but spread out over at least 12 different pieces, so none are finished yet... well, except for Perenepsis #4, which was finished even before the staycation, but I've since decided that I don't like the last bit before the very end, so put it aside for a while to attack with a fresh ear later. There is one that's just about done that wasn't even in my head yet until just a couple weeks ago, so that'll probably be the one that makes it here before 2015, although last month I could've sworn a different one was less than a week away from being done. Of course, I could intentionally delay it in order to bolster my chances of hitting that target next year, but now that I've said it, everyone would know that I cheated, and we can't have that, can we? So, hopefully this weekend; December 28 at the latest... probably.

I'll try to do better next year, but I think I might just have more fun working on pieces than finishing them... maybe like a cat playing with a mouse, but maybe not.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Prelude in B Minor

This thing originated around the time of my previously posted B Major Prelude. In fact, I started this one first and abandoned it in favor of the B Major idea that came out of it; despite the major/minor difference, the 2/4 vs. 3/8 time signature, and a slight difference in tempo, they share the same underlying motif of repeated 16th notes. Last week, I came across what I had done with this -- the first 12 bars, plus the first note of the next -- and within a couple hours got a little past halfway, but wasn't yet sure about the rest of it, or whether I'd even be finishing it any time soon. But Friday morning, before going to work, I decided to look it over and listen to what I had, and suddenly saw the way to the end. Fortunately, work didn't push it out of my head, and I was able to sketch out the remaining structure Friday evening, and filled in (most of) the remaining detail the next day. While listening on Sunday, I heard some spots where the left hand (and in the "reversed hands" passage, the right) could do something interesting without creating clutter, and so it was done. But Monday, I heard something right before the final chord and so fancied it up a bit. By the time I got up Tuesday morning, though, I decided that the original eighth note thing was better than the fancier idea, so changed it back and cleaned up some dynamics and phrasing (although I'm still not entirely decided on exactly which notes right before the end should be staccato). So, it's been done for a few days; the delay in posting is due to another new piece demanding my attention, combined with the hassle of having to turn it into a video in order to post it here. This one's a bit more user friendly than my previous posting, so no warnings needed here:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Scena Saltus

See? I wasn't kidding -- here's the new piece I promised/threatened to post just about a day ago last week (the initial delay was due to not yet having all the necessary software on my new computer, followed by additional changes to the piece over the weekend up through yesterday). It's a brief forest scene, and while birds are usually depicted in music by woodwinds, these are done entirely with percussion -- I guess they're using their beaks. It's not all birds, of course; there's a bullfrog or two, some distant rumblings, and other assorted woodland noises. This piece tells a story, or at least the summary of that story, but I think I'll let listeners decide for themselves what they hear.

If you like the long, repetitive stuff of the minimalist school, this is better, because it's short and repetitive, but in a less repetitive way. And if you don't like that stuff, this is still better, because it's over sooner! (Of all the prominent 12-tone composers, my favorite has always been Anton Webern, in part because his pieces are usually brief -- even when it's done well, there's only so much of that stuff I can take at once. Webern's music also seems to have a sense of humor that I find lacking among his colleagues.) The primary melodic theme here, to the extent there is one, is the tritone -- rising in the timpani and falling in the various "bird calls". The time signature is simply 4/4 all the way through, with no tempo changes, but there are lots of tuplets (3's, 5's, and 7's, some of them nested inside others) and single notes off the beat in imitation of the chaos in nature.

Note: The warning for Perenepsis #5 also applies here, but even more so: this is definitely not the piece of mine to listen to first -- in fact, it may be one of those things that only its creator can like -- but if you want to hear something a little different, go ahead and give it a listen:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Brief Note

Ha! Music pun! Anyway, this is just to let anyone still stopping by that there's more to come. I made a New Year's resolution to post 12 pieces this year -- to average one a month, not necessarily to post one a month. Still, it does seem that I'm a tiny bit behind schedule. I actually did finish one piano piece, but can't post it yet; I think I'll remain vague about why not (well, not so much vague as entirely non-responsive).

So, I have a plan, which may involve cheating. I'm close to finishing a thing I'm calling Three Sketches for String Quartet, and I might decide to count that as three (cheat #1), even though it's a single score, and each of the three is barely over a minute long (and there are currently four different versions of the third sketch, some of which I may split off into another work, or the first word of the title may change). But hey -- my resolution, my rules, right? Also, I have an old C Major march that I can put together fairly quickly (cheat #2, if that's even really cheating), and I'm nearly done with movements 3 & 4 of my String Quartet #3 (the opening movement is already posted as Little Fugue for String Quartet, and the remaining two are each about halfway done). So that's six of the twelve right there -- no problem.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I accidentally finished one of my four percussion pieces. Just have to listen some more and make any tweaks my ears tell me are needed, but it should be posted in the next few days. It's entirely percussion, with no piano, so one of the challenges is to not put too much in there -- in painting terms, I need to preserve some of the negative space. It also needs a better title, but hopefully it'll be up before the start of June. I also made progress on the Frankenstein thing, but that's a longer-term project.

Finally, I'm actually going to take a whole week-long vacation this year, tentatively scheduled for the second week of October. But no tourist-y stuff for me. Sure, I'll go to the Zwolle Tamale Festival (it rhymes, plus there's tamales!), and probably do some fishing on Toledo Bend, but it's mainly about getting away from the usual distractions, and I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to churn out a couple of new things in addition to finishing some current items. That should get me to at least ten or eleven before November, at which point I might be able to finish the Christmas piece that didn't make the deadline last year.

So that's the plan. All I have to do now is execute it.