I finally put up a video this weekend, demonstrating DIY monochords and overtones. I started demonstrating the monochord in class last semester, using an old one handmade in our department, but this semester I wanted to try building my own. ^_^
Enjoy this short compilation video demonstrating both monochords and introducing the concept of the harmonic series…
Another rare find! The AMAZING soundtrack by Gil Mellé—a soundtrack that its film does not deserve! 😹 I feel like it belongs with some epic city crime drama…
This soundtrack from 1977 by jazz composer and artist Gil Mellé is an amazing, colorful work of art. What strikes me is how this music got involved with the 1977 Canadian sci-fi film “Starship Invasions” (starring Christopher Lee!!!).
When watching the film, it was a typical B-movie experience, except for the fact that the music continually struck me as beautiful and clever and engaging–nonetheless, the music does NOT match up with any of the vibe or story of the film! It was a surreal experience!!
When listening to the music alone, I imagine some gritty, city, detective drama. And, musically, it is a joy to listen to! So, I’ve taken the available synthetically-made stereo tracks (it feels like these were taken from the original reel-to-reel, that perhaps wasn’t stored too carefully, and then manipulated on early equipment), and I ran them through my up-to-date basic mastering system, to at least try to breathe some fullness into these tracks.
It’s still not the greatest quality. Someday, I may track down the original mono files and just build them up from scratch… I like the music enough, I may just do that someday. But for now, I hope you’ll enjoy this symphonically jazzy soundtrack masterpiece by Gil Mellé!
Without this album, the Moog synthesizer likely would not have reached such popularity. By performing these well-known keyboard classics by J. S. Bach on one of the original Moogs, Carlos dramatically transformed the views of the general public toward the instrument and its musical potential.
In the course of teaching my “History of Technology in Music” class at Cal Poly Pomona, I was alerted to the fact that the music department actually has an old Musicwriter typewriter lying around!! Many thanks to our department technician who retrieved it for me!
Now enjoy a small walk down History Lane and check out this cool bit of mid-20th century music tech!
(PS: if you like the background music, it’s track #3 on this album.)
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.
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.
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…
Today’s tune kicks off the Christmasy-slash-Holidays edition of these four Thursdays in December.
Sadly I have yet to hear this lovely little song for SATB and solo instrument performed with real musicians; I can only give you a tase of its beauty with the midi demo below… But, hopefully, one day, a choir will be willing to bring “Cradle Song” to life….
“Cradle Song (of Mary’s Beloved)” is a 3-minute-long work for SATB choir with either brass or woodwind instrumental solo (the solo part is available for either the original Bb Trumpet or C Flute, Bb Clarinet, or F Horn).
The text, adapted from the 1901 poem of the same name by Patrick K. O’Horan, is a sweet lullaby sung by Mary, mother of Jesus, to her “beloved little One” of the “Holy, Immortal, Ineffable Name.”
The minute I stumbled on this sweet poem in 2015, I knew I had to set it to music!
As you listen to the demo, try keeping the lyrics in mind:
Sleep, O my little one, quietly sleep,
Angels shall guard thee slumbering deep.
White wings about thee
Enfolding that flame,
Sleep, O my little one, quietly sleep,
Heaven’s high hosts around thee shall creep.
All love and glory,
Beauty and grace —
With kiss of a mother–
rest on thy face.
Sleep, my beloved, my little one sleep;
No crying be heard: O stir not nor weep.
A bright Star is shining
Above thy dear head,
And to this poor shelter
The great Kings are led.
Sleep then, my Kingly one, gently and still.
See how thine angels watch on each hill.
Here is thy mother
Close, dearest heart:
I shall be with thee
When shepherds depart.
Sleep, O my little Lord, darling one, sleep.
“Cradle Song (of Mary’s Beloved)” can be performed by a choir with advanced ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our work of “Holiday Frivolity” next week…
[C]ompleted in April of 2013, the originating sketches for this four-movement work existed as early as 2008, and were a part of Wallin Huff’s first graduate lessons in composition, while studying under Dr. Mark Carlson. “Gypsy Wanderer” is a unique addition to Wallin Huff’s repertoire in that it is an early exploration of patterns, color, and formula.
The nature of the four movements can be described in affect as follows: I. Irreverently: dance-like and fluid; II. Grave: surreal and sublime; III. Con brio: diligent and determined; IV. Rapide: passionate yet controlled. The work is riveting and soulful in its earthy and irreverent, rhythmic and harmonic wanderings.
I have had the privilege of playing this sonata, in whole and in part, several times, and each time I play it I discover something new about it as a violinist. The unexpected dichotomy of approaching a piece (especially one of my later works) as a musician versus a composer continues to fascinate me. 🙂
I am immensely grateful to sisters Maria Wozniakiewicz and Karolina Rojahn for their excellent and pristine performance of this work on the Navona album, “Soul of the Machine.” And, of course, many thanks to Parma Recordings and all others who contributed to make this album possible!
Enjoy Maria’s and Karolina’s performance of “Gypsy Wanderer” below!
“Gypsy Wanderer” can be performed by anyone with advanced ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our featured work next week…
This little song for mezzo-soprano, string quartet, and piano was written back in 2002. I recall originally composing its melody and words by hand while on one of my music tours (“Pittsburgh Melody” was another such song, written while we were, quite literally, driving through Pittsburgh…).
In 2003 I took a chance and entered “Face in the Moonlight” into that year’s BMI John Lennon Song Writing Contest and surprised and thrilled to find that it was selected as a State Finalist Winner! It was certainly a boost of encouragement to me. 🙂 Likewise, some years later, a friend of mine who was acting as a missionary in Israel wrote me a note to let me know that she had introduced her congregation to this song, and that it had become a favorite.
I hope you also find enjoyment, listening to this charming tune. 🙂
“Face in the Moonlight” can be performed by anyone with intermediate ability. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our featured work next week…