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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…

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#NewTuneThursday: Phillipy is Fragmented

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune is our next track from “Music for The Book of I” — Phillipy is Fragmented.

Phillipy refers to himself in the third person, as if existing as a separate entity from his very self. I find the habit interesting, a sport of sorts, a way of explaining one’s actions from a distance.
Phillipy knocks at the door…three times…
“…three times, that’s all Phillipy can take.”
He can tell when thoughts are tangled. He may speak in the third person but he is linear, he follows one thought with the next… 

In creating this track, I wanted to really feature Phillipy’s autistic obsession with precision and the number 3 in the following ways:

  • the work features a solo trio (violin, viola, and cello) against the backdrop of the string orchestra.
  • the main sections “plunk” along with pedantic and clockwork rigor
  • at around 1:58 in the recording, the accompanying harmonies are outlined with ascending triadic arpeggios… (meanwhile, the harmonic progression is descending… pretty cool, right??) ^_^
  • at two points in the recording (1:58 and 3:48), the main theme is broken up by two variant themes that move the rhythm along in 3/4 as opposed to the methodical 4/4 we started in.
  • at around 2:58 in the recording, the solo trio plucks out the dissonant “knock three times” motif that is one of Phillipy’s compulsions — and they repeat this three-note motif…three times in a row…

And finally, toward the very end of the work (around 4:04), we hear the descending glide of the violins as Phillipy “goes to meet his mother”… and we finish with a stark, triplet rendition of the main theme from “I Know What Death Sounds Like“… a theme that tends to emerge everywhere you look in this Suite… 😉

Enjoy the recording of “Phillipy is Fragmented” below — featuring Darrell Peries on solo violin; Cathy Alonzo on solo viola; and Jenna Ford on solo cello.

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This heart-wrenching little musical sonnet 🙂 can be performed by an intermediate-advanced trio. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Pegasus

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

This work for violin, guitar, and piano holds such a special place in my heart. <3

I originally finished writing it in 2006, my last year at Cal Poly Pomona. When I had first sketched out my ideas for “Pegasus” it was right after one of my Middle Eastern Music classes (I loved my ethnomusicology classes!!!). During this particular class we had gotten just a taste of certain Middle East drumming patterns and practices, one of them being the 10/8 pattern the piano part outlines at the beginning of this work. In the table below, imagine the lower row is a deeper pitched drum while the upper row is a higher pitched drum; it goes a little something like this:

             
♩.      

Now listen to the opening piano part:

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Can you hear it? I’ve always thought it was pretty cool! :p

The thing is, once I’d written about the first minute-and-a-half, for only violin and piano at the time, I got stuck. At some point afterward I began taking composition lessons on the side of my normal studies with Dr. Peter Yates. Of course, being a phenomenal guitarist, he suggested I add a guitar part to the ensemble–I’m so glad I did. 🙂 Then he helped me think through the rest of the work–and we even debuted “Pegasus” on the Cal Poly stage one evening concert!

Since then, I didn’t get to record this work definitively until one of my fellow Cal Poly alums offered to record a few works for me in the studio. So, we got together more fellow alums–John-Paul Trotter on guitar and Mike Jung on piano–to have a giant reunion-style recording session! It was a blast!

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

Recording “Pegasus” (and “Butterfly Lullaby”): l to r– Dave Martinez (engineer), John-Paul Trotter, me, and Mike Jung.
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#NewTuneThursday: Aradia, La Bella Pellegrina

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune was composed in 2017 for my friend, violinist Payman Eliahoo, and his son, who (at the time) was a beginning clarinet student. As I was putting it together I built the entire work off of the opening feel of the piano part and simply let it unfold from there. It pretty much wrote itself once I had the opening bars down. 🙂 Upon listening back to the work in completion, I dug around a little and came across the Italian story of Aradia, daughter of the moon goddess Diana and Queen of the Old Religion. I was so struck by the charming nature of this feminine messiah figure that I felt like the legend and this new work fit together perfectly.

The original request was for a piece for clarinet and violin, something that Payman could play with his son. But I felt like a flute would actually go really nicely with the clarinet part. So the original instrumentation is for Flute (opt. Violin) and Clarinet, with Piano. Of course, though, as opportunities came to play this sweet little work, for ease of programming, I created a string version of the work, too — for Violin, Viola (or opt. Second Violin), with Piano.

It’s a really charming work for students of late beginner to intermediate ability! Get the sheet music for the original woodwind/string version here, and the all-string version here. And enjoy the recording below…

(This recording is currently only available via CBTTF Records.)

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

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#NewTuneThursday: Solitude’s Hypocrisy

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune is our first foray into the works created for “Music for The Book of I“… Presenting “Solitude’s Hypocrisy”!

Back in 2014, I was approached by author Jorge Armenteros to create a 50-minute album of “musical response” works to be released with the debut of his novel, The Book of I.

The Book of I is the story of Teaston, a painter struggling with schizophrenia, who finds himself at the edge of a cliff, at the edge of his life. Set in the seaside village of Cassis, in the south of France, the novel explores our fragmented human nature through the distorted lens that Teaston provides.

I had a huge blast working on this whole project! Jorge specifically loves the violin and wanted music centered on the haunting sounds of strings. So most of the music I created is for various combinations of string ensemble.

Today’s particular tune, however, was intended to be simple, raw, and heart-breaking. It remains one of my favorite tunes… “Solitude’s Hypocrisy” is a reflection of our main character’s turmoil that he finally succumbs to near the end of the novel… In it, Jorge Armenteros writes:

The ever-shifting world throws me into a lonely corner when I need someone. And when I crave solitude, my skull lets everybody into my mind… when I could almost touch Phillipy, he jumped…Even Camila, walking away from me when I need her most.

Reading this, I knew I had to incorporate the themes belonging to both Phillipy and Camila, which I had already composed. And, of course, both characters’ themes had to strike a much darker and more sombre tone in this combined “reprise” of sorts.

And, as it happened, Jorge had requested that I have one of the album’s tracks ready slightly ahead of schedule, so that he could play it at a reading he was giving — I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to present this intimate and heart-felt little work; I realized that constructing it for one violin and one guitar would perfectly fit the bill!

In the recently re-released “Existential Edition”, the recording of “Solitude’s Hypocrisy” holds a special place in my heart. Here, I was able to play the tune with my first composition teacher, Peter Yates. I just love the clear sincerity and “edge” present in our somewhat impromptu performance. 🙂

Enjoy this special recording of “Solitude’s Hypocrisy”!

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“Solitude’s Hypocrisy” can be performed by an intermediate-advanced duo. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Of Roses and Lilies

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Our first new composition of the new year is a 2013 work for solo soprano, women’s choir, piano, and string orchestra, with english horn and soprano recorder.

Completed in 2013, Of Roses and Lilies is “A Romantic Expression Based on King Solomon’s Song of Songs.” Flirting with musical and dramatic elements from Medieval Europe to the ancient Middle East and Greek Theatre, this work features the solo soprano in the role of The Woman. She expresses her love, devotion, and delight toward her Lover while the Daughters of Jerusalem — as with that of the collective commentary of a Greek chorus — listen and engage with The Woman in her tales touting the glories of her Beloved.

The work is in three major sections following the expressive and fluid introduction: the first in A Minor, introducing the characters and their vivid emotions; the second in A Major, during which The Woman shares a tale of her Lover calling her to escape with him into the night… “For the winter is past and the rain gone…” —when for a moment she hesitates, she wonders if she is too late, only to find that he is still there waiting for her, encouraging her with the sweet words of his continued adoration toward her; the third section returns to the original themes in A Minor, yet gains an expression of great power and fervency as The Woman’s love for her Beloved utterly transforms her.

Here’s some cool background trivia for you: I actually originally created this work (for piano and all the voices without the strings and winds) several years prior… Maybe as far back as 2003-ish?? And this was during the time I was still writing everything by hand, with pencil on paper! After it sat around for 10 more years or so, I took another look at it and decided to polish it up… It was just too charming to allow it to disappear into obscurity. And then, as I worked on it, I decided I needed more instruments to really flesh it out the way it was meant to be… 😉

You can hear it below, featuring one of my former composition students, Ayla Draper-Lippincott, on the solo voice part.

“Of Roses and Lilies” can be performed by an intermediate-advanced ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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

(This recording is currently only available via CBTTF Records.)

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#NewTuneThursday: Resplendence

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Let’s ring the bells for today’s new tune, since the New Year is just around the corner!

“Resplendence” is a five-and-a-half minute long work for 3.5 octave handbell choir. Composed in 2014, I used the opportunity to experiment with various sorts of combinatoriality (I really dig playing with aggregates!). I found that bells are a great way to experiment with such serialism because, like with a piano, the pitches are definite; the players can’t tweak them. And the resonant quality of the bells gives off such a glorious shower of shimmering sound!

☆*・゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚・*☆

Unfortunately no group has tackled this piece yet (but that may change in the coming year…) and, also unfortunately, no midi sound package I have access to contains all 3.5 octaves or bells. So in this recording, you’ll hear some piano with the bells… Use your imagination and envision the full handbell choir covering all those notes…

**And seriously, if you know of an advanced handbell group that might be interested in playing this piece for the first time (A World Premier!) hit me up! 🙂

Enjoy listening to the demo below…

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

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#NewTuneThursday: Christmas Wayfarer

Happy Holidays to one and all! Today’s #NewTuneThursday features one of my favorite works, “Christmas Wayfarer”! 

Composed in 2015, this 8 minute medley includes unique adaptations of “I Saw Three Ships,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Coventry Carol,” “O Holy Night,” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

The following year I was requested to compose a version of this symphonic work for concert band. Check out the digital demo of the original symphonic recording…

Enjoy Christmas Wayfarer…

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“Christmas Wayfarer” can be performed by an ensemble with intermediate to advanced ability. Get the sheet music for Orchestra here, and the music for Concert Band here! And stay tuned for our featured work next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Now Winter Nights Enlarge

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune continues the Christmasy-slash-Holidays edition of these four Thursdays in December.

I have to say I really love today’s tune! It’s sassy, medieval-feeling, and conveys the imagery of youthful revelry during holiday celebrations.

This work for SSA a cappella trio and hand percussion (rainstick, tambourine, and finger cymbals) is an exotic treatment of the 16th century poem of the same name by Thomas Campion. Moderately extended vocal techniques and microtones grant an almost Eastern or Indonesian flavor to the imagery of bacchanal youth during Wintertime Festivities.

Enjoy listening to it below….
Lyrics

Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours;
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.

Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups o’erflow with wine,
Let well-turned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.

This time doth well dispense
With lovers’ long discourse;
Much speech hath some defense,
Though beauty no remorse.

All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.

The summer hath his joys,
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.

“Now Winter Nights Enlarge” can be performed by an experienced ensemble with advanced ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our major holiday work of next week…