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#NewTuneThursday: Butterfly Lullaby

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday! (Parts of this post were published three years ago.)

The story behind “Butterfly Lullaby” is an interesting one! While I completed it in its present state in 2012, it actually existed long before that as a simple violin and piano duet called, “A Lyrical Interlude,” originally composed in 1998…. Wow! It is truly a blast-from-my-past – I was only 18 years old! ?

Late in 2012 – before I had any real discography – I had decided that, with some of my more current works slated to come out on the Navona Recordings label soon, I wanted to self-produce a very simple, eclectic album of all my older and perhaps more naive compositions – because I still enjoy them and didn’t want them to be forgotten, even though they were early works from a much younger composer. ? As I was compiling all the pieces I wanted to record and include on this album, I came across my old little violin/piano duet, which I had performed several times years prior with friends in private concerts and events. It lacked the intro and “bridge” section of the current Lullaby, and it didn’t modulate keys as it does now, so it was very short and simple. But I loved it dearly and really wanted to include it.

I considered to myself how, in 2012, I rarely played the violin part any more, but I did find myself singing it regularly! So, I said to myself, why not 1) turn the violin part into a vocal solo and add lyrics, 2) keep and embellish the piano part, and 3) add another melodic line to harmonize with the vocal part?

I went to work on it with excitement and finished “Butterfly Lullaby” in only a matter of days! With such a charming and unpretentious melody I knew it had to be a lullaby of some sort, and, after some light research, I had decided that the topic would be loosely based on Native American mythology – that of the tale of the Butterfly as the bringer and keeper of dreams. And, from that moment on, this piece was given a grand rebirth!

Enjoy the definitive recording below:

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Lyrics:

Take this Butterfly,
Bye-Bye, Sweet Child;
Embrace her comfort as her wings brush against your skin.
And with your breath whisper a wish
Into her ear;
She’ll make no sound but trust it only to Heav’n.
Dance beneath the Moon,
Bye-Bye, Sweet Child.
His guardian light embraces all of the earth and sky.
And as you lay your heavy head
Upon your bed,
The Butterfly will bring your dreams while you sleep.
Though sorrow looms, be not afraid;
Time wil prove true.
Shake the dust from your wings;
Give thanks for life’s renewal!
Behold the Morning Star breaks forth.
Fare thee well, Sweet Child.
And with the dawn, ancestral spirits smile down on you.
Sleep well and dream the Dream of Hope,
Bye-Bye, Sweet Child.
Butterflies will greet you when you awake.

“Butterfly Lullaby” can be performed by an early-intermediate ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Counterpoint Invariable

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

I am fascinated by the lessons the study of counterpoint can teach us! Combining this love for the rules of counterpoint with my nature to set up systems of patterns and let them run (to see what happens…) I embarked on a creative experiment using three violins…

Completed in 2011 for the Rosé Violin Trio of Los Angeles, this complex and experimental work consists of three movements:

I. Intervallic Structure (Andante con moto)
II. Tone and Color (Meno mosso)
III. Urban Rhythm (Allegro ma non troppo)

Based upon a strict and unvarying formula of patterns that are passed equally between the three violin parts, all three movements utilize this same precise structure of “A, B, C, and Ostinato” phrases, which were developed and plotted out meticulously by Wallin Huff prior to the actual composition of any one note. Each movement, however, while still based upon the same formulaic set of patterns, is then varied by the compositional material of the four phrases themselves. The phrases’ material is each based upon very different scalar patterns, depending on the particular movement’s character: Intervallic Structure is an exploration of pitting certain intervals against each other; Tone and Color is a wash of purely tonal and consonant patterns; Urban Rhythm strictly focuses on the pitting of rhythmic patterns of two’s versus three’s against one another in a “sterile” pentatonic tonal environment.

Counterpoint Invariable is a successful thought-experiment, turned to driving and evocative emotional artwork, highlighting Wallin Huff’s ongoing fascination with the logic of mechanical structure giving way to outward beauty. It is a true, fulfilling reward to perform and explore this work in its entirety.

This work was beautifully recorded by Parma and released on the Navona Records album, “Soul of the Machine”Parma even recommended it to the Grammys!

Enjoy the recording of these three movements below…

“Counterpoint Invariable” can be performed by an advanced ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: The Oracle

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune for flute/piccolo, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano is “An Experiment in Aleatorism & Formula” from 2016.

Using 50 tarot cards to create the framework, there is both an element of chance (in that the process of drawing the cards and their placement in the 5 separate tarot spreads, is all random) and an element of “foreordained knowledge” (or pre-compositional structure).

“The Oracle” has thus emerged as a multi-faceted, deeply layered, story-driven reflection of the human condition.

I totally dig the intersection of free-will or chance and structural formula at which Art’s uniqueness can emerge… 😉

You can read more about my inner processes at this post.

Enjoy a recording below, as well as a demo “music video” after that. 🙂

Purchase this recording at http://cbttf.com/albums/parokeths-veil

“The Oracle” can be performed by an advanced ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: “I Am Water” from Music for The Book of I

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

“I Am Water” represents the final scene in the novel, the moment when Teaston finally accesses peace by joining the prior Faces in Foam in the Water…

Throughout the movement you’ll hear passing snippets of previous themes, most impactfully that of Her Majesty (from The Elusive Everyman…)

I am in love with how rich and haunting this work is!! Enjoy the recording below!

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“I Am Water” can be performed by an intermediate ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Gleann Na Aes Sídhe (Glen of the Faeries)

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy this brand new, all-original, Irish fiddle set for solo violin, with optional parts for band, harp or piano, and string orchestra. I wrote it last year specifically for my dear friend and fellow fiddler, Lainey Elizabeth White.

At first, I felt a little lost on how to go about writing this work, since I already have so many old Celtic tunes floating around my brain, and I wanted this one to be special. 🙂 Somehow, as I got going, it unfolded, and I knew I had to add more to accompany it and give it support!

So, not only can you get the original sheet music for the fiddle part (with chords, for guitar, for example), but you can also get the optional string and harp/piano sheet music, the custom made backing track to fiddle along with on your own, as well as a version of the tune for violin and piano!

Enjoy this lovely song below! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Intrepid (a Fantasy for Oboe/English Horn Soloist and Chamber Ensemble)

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Evoking the driving forces of metamorphosis and migration, INTREPID is a cinematic Fantasy for soloist on oboe and english horn, with small chamber orchestra accompaniment. It is rich in color and texture, persistently forward-moving on its sweeping journey.

Completed in 2015, this work consists of a rather unusual ensemble, as it was written for a very specific group in mind. But, in fact, I love how this unique texture plays into all the richness of color and harmony as well as transparency. This is definitely one of my favorite works; I love the melody and harmonies… someday I hope to re-record it with an expert group. 🙂

For now, enjoy the debut recording below:

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“Intrepid” can be performed by an intermediate to advanced group. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Leviathan of the Ancient Deep

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Leviathan of the Ancient Deep holds such a dear place in my heart! <3

Written in 2008 as my graduate thesis, this work is a three-movement, 25-minute concerto for solo 6-string electric violin, backed up by orchestra, EWI (electric wind instrument), and synthesizer.

Taking its cue from the Hebrew description of the Creature of antiquity and imagination, this Concerto features the virtuosic properties of the six-string electric violin with its immense range, while the various and creative sounds available to the synthesizer and electric wind instrument (EWI) enhance the beauty of the acoustic orchestra.

I remember I’d always wanted to create an electric violin concerto, and grad school seemed like the perfect opportunity to do it! 🙂

The three movements of this concerto tell a story of warriors setting sail upon the seas to find this ancient creature, Leviathan, for themselves…

I. Seekers of the Legend: “There go the ships: [there] is that Leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein.”

II. Sighting: “Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook?… None is so fierce that dare stir him up… Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear… He is a king over all the children of pride.”

III. The Hunt: “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan…that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea.”

The second movement is the longest and features a mirror sonata form. The outer movements act as bookends for the whole tale, and the third movement contains a Cadenza during which the soloist is free to recall all the themes and riffs that came before, in new and creative ways.

Fun story: being “under the gun” to complete this work for my degree requirements, I truly thought at one point I wouldn’t get the third movement done in time. But, in a fit of inspiration, I happened to create the movement in only 2 weeks! Of course, I cheated at the time by not writing out a Cadenza and declaring that the soloist should just create one. ^_^ Then, when we debuted the work live, I was forced to finally create a Cadenza I could be proud of. 😉

Because of the complexity of, not only the work itself, but of the whole organization of musicians and equipment needed, I really never thought I’d get to release a recording of it, to share my real vision of it. But after 8 years, as technology (and my handling of it) improved, I was able to put in the effort and create a worthy debut recording! This recording is currently available for Backstage Members. But plans are already underway to get more chamber works recorded this year, to round out a whole, new, fantastic Classical album, with Leviathan at its heart.

For now, enjoy this video featuring a 10-minute sample from the epic, exclusive recording of “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” and images taken from the accompanying, interactive picture-book!

“Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” can be performed by an advanced group. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: In the Forest (Amazing Grace)

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

This original work…creatively weaves the beloved Amazing Grace melody in and out of a second original tune titled “In the Forest,” evoking a meditative and melancholy sense of wandering and reflection, as if hidden from the outside world.

This string quartet was composed in 2011 at the request of Danielle Rosaria Cummins. The piece (as only “In the Forest”) existed originally as an unfinished sketch for solo piano, started some years prior. When I was requested to compose a quick-and-dirty string quartet arrangement of the traditional Amazing Grace for a formal fundraising banquet being held in two days, I decided to take this old sketch of “In the Forest” and turn it into this present string quartet.

Enjoy the performance of this haunting little work below!

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“In the Forest (Amazing Grace)” can be performed by an intermediate quartet. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Faces in Foam

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune is our next track from “Music for The Book of I” — Faces in Foam, which is actually the opening track for the whole “Book of I” experience.

The woman sits at the edge of the cliff looking out to the sea…a daughter of North Africa perhaps. Her cheeks reflect olive light. She looks at me, carving her face in my memory…the step towards the rocky edge…I listen to the lines forming her face…I return to the melody still dancing in the air…
Lucio…had a delicate face…sharp angles, oblong eyes, and a classic Greek nose. I saw his face before the rocks disfigured him…he has the face of the forgotten… I try to paint him… I take a Renaissance approach, depicting him in a diaphanous light, like an angel…
I know those faces are…around me… They joined the sea because they had no other choice. Their faces are washed of past concerns. …If I…attempt to render them as ex-living people in my canvas, the white foam is quick to reclaim them. That is why all my canvases turn white–the frothy sea swallows them.

I knew several things when I started writing this track: I wanted to feature “the Olive Woman” with a pseudo-African or -Egyptian feel; I wanted to also feature the little, angelic, Greek boy Lucio; and tying it all together with the rest of the album, I wanted to create a Herrmann-esque wave of crashing drama that called forward to the central track, “I Know What Death Sounds Like.”

I love the “African” drive of the first part of the work. But I very much love the latter part–Lucio’s part. I tried to create an open, early Greek aesthetic with the intertwining lines of muted and plucked strings. And then, “Lucio himself” sings (in this recording it’s the wonderful voice of countertenor Caleb Barnes); it’s a haunting setting of the Alma Redemptoris Mater:

Sweet Mother of the Redeemer, the passage to the heavens,

The gate of the spirits of the dead, and the star of the sea, aid the falling.

Mother of Him who cares for the people, have pity on us sinners.

This final cry by Lucio just sums up the whole work beautifully as the “Faces” Teaston encounters get swallowed by the “Foam”… and we move forward into the rest of the story

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This haunting work can be performed by an intermediate-advanced string orchestra with soloists and some percussion. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday— Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune is another really special piece to me, with lots of good memories attached to it. ^_^

“Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” is a string quartet that I wrote in 2007, during my grad school days and toward the end of my utter obsession with Minimalism, specifically after the stylings of Philip Glass. Listening to the recording of it below, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear the similarities. :p

But this work has a story element to it, that’s near and dear to my heart. The Mechanical Star of the work is actually a character that makes her first appearance in the second book of my original Kesher Chronicles series, “Questions of Faith.”

This character, SARA (an advanced “Security Analysis and Records Archive’ malleable-Paradigm”) — over the course of the second and upcoming third books — becomes very involved in the lives of the humans around her and tries to orient herself within her constantly evolving thought-processes…

You can see why I included the following quote in the score to the quartet:

Dedicated to the computers and robots of the future, who long to dream as the humans do.

The structural details behind this almost-12 minute work include:

…moments of mechanical coldness [in the opening], gradually giving way to moments of tender and emotional beauty. Wallin Huff intentionally derived and fashioned her various rhythmic and tonal patterns throughout the work from strict mathematical relationships — to showcase that a mechanically constructed framework can give way to striking beauty on its surface, much in the way a computer program of the future might evolve into its abstract dream-state.

The sections of this single-movement work include: Mechanically, Quixotically, Pensively, With impish behavior, Tenderly, and Surreal.

I’ll never forget the opportunity I had in 2012, traveling to Boston to hear the New EnglandString Quartet record this work for PARMA Recordings. You can hear them in that very session on the album “Soul of the Machine” below:

 

Two years later, “Anima Mechanicae” got its European debut at a concert at the Exeter Phoenix Auditorium in Devon, England!

I do have sketches and outlines for a multi-movement “sister” piece for quartet …something about Consciousness… :p It would be nice to complete that one someday soon… I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

“Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” can be performed by an advanced string quartet. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…