Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Poppy in my garden

I grew a poppy in my garden. This is true - I grew exactly ONE poppy. I guess the other must have died - I expected this one to die as well, but it survived. However, it has a seed case, so I hope I can get more next time.


Bound music so far.

As I have mentioned before, I am busily having my acoustic music bound in black hardcover volumes. This entails a lot of Finale work on my part because it needs to have a good layout, along with page numbers, titles, descriptions, instrumentation, and so on. In the photo, you can see the black books there on the left. That's how many I have so far. 
1. Missa Sine Nomine. SATB, string quartet, organ, handbells. 2. Missa Sine Nomine. variations. I re-wrote several parts of the mass for other ensembles. 3. Missa Sine Nomine in English. 4. Music for Advent. SATB and instruments. I have pieces for first, send and fourth Advent Sundays. 5. Aviary Corridor. Soprano and small ensemble. Poem by Charles Alexander. This was performed in Seattle. 6. Fibonacci Poems. Tenor and piano. Poems by Coli Bell. I love these short poems which are snippets from life. 7. Music for Orchestra. Not a large volume! I actually have written a few pieces, however. 8. Music for Clarinet. Organizing volumes like…

Band Music

Writing band music for me is a blast; really, it is. My early band pieces, if I have to critique them, are that they are "ploddy"; i.e., eighth notes in repeating patterns of 4 or 5 or something, and loud fugal melodies over it.

This piece, however, is a lot lighter. It is a fairly recent work, based on a melody from the Sacred Harp. Of course, it won't get performed; conductors or wind bands like music which showers all the parts with melodies and constant switching harmonies. They don't like it when the band has to function as chordal body. But who knows? I had several experiences where the band director was interested in looking at my piece, and afterwords, all I got was silence and the music returned to me.


4 to 1

I have revised an early piece that I wrote for flute, gamba, and harpsichord. It can also be played for flute, cello, and piano (larger audience there). I hope to get a live recording one day!


More about choirs

Expanding on the topic of choirs within a community; Performing music by the composers (amateur or professional) is very important. Not enough choirs do this; they are too busy performing works by Bach or Herbert or Eric Whitacre.

Choirs used to perform this service; Bach, for example, was hired to write music for his choir every Sunday and for festivals. I'm sure that they also performed other composers (I guess I could look that up and find out). Today, of course, we are able to get music from anywhere in the world; this leads to lots and lots of music to choose from. I also have nothing against this. It is fun to perform a wide variety of styles, as well as singing pieces that are on my favourite's list.

This does not excuse the fact, though, that choirs almost totally ignore the composers living in the area where the coir resides; I have seen many concerts where I live, and it is rare to hear music by local composers. If they do sing one, it is by a famous composers, and i…

I wish everybody would learn to sing

Singing in a choir is a great enjoyment; it allows a person not only to use his or her voice, it also gives people a chance to hear and perform excellent music. Music is an important part of life and human culture, and so should be encouraged.

Choirs offer people the chance to participate in culture. Too often culture is set aside, especially in this day and age, where we equate money with society. The first thing that pops into one's mind is "I wonder how much it costs?" Culture is a thing that not only has a financial value, it also has a cultural value; that's why a car is just a car, but music is more.

Also, it allows for the voice of the local musicians and composers to be heard. For example, a church choir director needs to actively search out the music written by composers living in the area. Although performing music by great composers is perfectly fine, the contemporary voices from the area should also be heard. At least this is what I believe; it is rarely …

Music so far

Here's my little collection so far of my "Complete Acoustic Music". It's the black books you can see there. One of them (Music for Orchestra) is opened to show how it looks.

I'll make a list soon.


Acoustic music

As I organize my acoustic music into volumes, I have again started writing a few short pieces, but I find it difficult to finish anything. It might be that I need a goal in order to do this; for example, I finished a set of vocal pieces for Colin Bell on his Fibonacci poetry. There was a goal with this set, certainly. The words of the poem gave me the ideas to create a specific pattern. However, I would like to write a piece for flute and piano, but I cannot make it work - at least, not yet.

Writing electronic pieces I can do.

Music books so far

So, how far am I now with my music book collection? This month I finished up my clarinet book. It's not possible (really) to organize chronologically, so it is done by ensemble size. Like this:

solo clarinet.
clarinet and another instrument.
clarinet and string quartet
clarinet and wind ensemble.

Some of these pieces were written pre- computer-music-software days; I had to type these pieces in.
Specifically, the piece for solo clarinet.

Next month, I release my book of songs, and then my works for guitar.

Maclay Gardens

Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida. I went there with Charles Baker. It's a lovely garden just north of town.


Organization

I have been spending time now organizing all my acoustic music into groups and having the completed volumes bound. It gives me the chance to go back and see how much music (acoustic, again) I have written over the years. I see, for example, that I have written a lot of vocal pieces, from my little set of  Four Haikus (on poetry by Basho) to my recent Fibonacci Songs (poetry by Colin Bell).
I'm not sure how to group everything though. I am working on my pieces for flute now. Should I include pieces that use flute as a soloist only, or should I put in pieces that have flute in the mix (like a piece for flute, clarinet, and piano)? I will probably include it, mainly because if I don't, the trio will end up by itself.

Composition Contests

It always seems composition contests are weighted against you. I may not be the best composer in the universe, but I know I'm not terrible. I recently entered a choral composition contest, and, as usual, did not win. The composers that did win were listed, so I found some of their music on YouTube and listened. It was typical choir music that is expected today: sweeping, monotonic, and totally not worth listening to again. Eric Whitacre would be proud. 

The second thing, and more disturbing, is that I would say they won because they were young and fresh-faced, and are working in music. I do not work professionally in music, and I think this works against the musician. Samuel Barber, for example, called Charles Ives ''a hack who didn't know how to put a piece together." How nice.
Amateur composers are given short shrift, I guess.