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“The Oracle” – An Experiment in Aleatorism & Formula

I’m in the middle of composing a real neat piece right now for a July 1 deadline… I’m calling it “The Oracle,” and it’s for flute/piccolo, Bb clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.

matrixoracleWhat I’ve done is set up a complex set of “rules” that guide my writing based on the random drawing of tarot cards… But it’s turned out to be both an aleatoric and a highly flexible process that leaves me with a lot of artistic possibilities, though I’m being guided in the overall structure by the cards I draw and their placement in the spread I’ve chosen.

As you might imagine, knowing me, I’m having a ton of fun with this. There’s something thrilling about the mixture of using both a pre-compositional process that prevents me from fully anticipating the outcome of a work combined with that process allowing for a vast amount of contextual freedom!

Enjoy a sample of the work at the end of this post…

Continue reading “The Oracle” – An Experiment in Aleatorism & Formula

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Leviathan has a Cadenza

Hooray! I just finished writing my cadenza for Leviathan‘s 3rd movement! Funny story about that…

When I first wrote this work for my Master’s degree thesis back in 2008, I had been working so much on the first two movements that my deadline was getting down to the wire and I wasn’t sure if I’d even get to have a third movement at all. But I was determined, and in a fit of desperate inspiration I created movement three in only two weeks! I just love it! The convenient catch was, I wanted to have a cadenza in there, and that meant I could get away with not having to actually write 3 minutes of music, hee hee….! So, my poor concerto sat there for almost a decade without a cadenza…

Well, no longer! I will be releasing soon a special edition of the solo part with my suggested bowings, fingerings, and the new cadenza! Let it be known, however, that I still encourage soloists who are daring enough to tackle this work in the future to create their own cadenza! 🙂

Come to the WORLD PREMIERE and see/hear the spectacle for yourself!

In the meantime, here are some fun photos….

I just discovered that my Baroque bow is actually the perfect bow for this instrument! Who knew?
Here’s a shot of the most challenging spot for the soloist, in the 2nd movement… Total insanity!
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What I’ve Been Up To: Part 1

These past several weeks have been insanely active for me, with one project after another, after another… So all good stuff, honest! And, good memories, too… These next few posts I’ll be making will share some of these awesome experiences I’ve been able to have lately…

First up… The COACHELLA Gig. ✌🏻

Yes, via a contact from college, I got the great opportunity to work with EDM DJ Deorro and his team in preparing a special appearance during his two performances at Coachella this year.

It all started with the idea of adding live string players to the performance during two songs; the only hitch

At rehearsal, haunting drummer Travis Barker in the shot.
At rehearsal, haunting drummer Travis Barker in the shot.

was that – since it’s all about the #PandaFunk – the musicians needed to be wearing panda heads. Which means, actual live playing on-stage becomes very much impossible (just trust me on that).

So what I was able to do, was compose an all-original string trio (2 violins and a viola) part to accompany Deorro’s two songs, “Feeling Pretty Good” and “Tell Me Lies.” I then had a BLAST visiting the Long Beach recording studio of “sound ninja” Remo Portman – Independent Puppy Recording – where I recorded and overdubbed myself playing all three trio parts to the original mixes. It was SO much fun, and a very successful day!

That taken care of, I enlisted the aid of four of my wonderful college students to don their tuxedos and Panda Heads, and go on-stage to bring the recorded tracks to life for the audience! I am so proud of them; they totally rocked the house! 🙂

Enjoy a few of these shots I’ve grabbed here and there of our Panda Guys; I’m sure there must be more floating around the internet… Try to catch ’em all! 😂

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Serenading a Romantic Geek Event Tonight

Guess what, geek-peeps! Aisling — my electric dragon violin — and I will be serenading the outdoor cafe of this Geek Singles event TONIGHT! Come hear the romantic musical stirrings of themes like “Quantum Leap,” “Incredible Hulk,” the original Star Trek and Deep Space 9, themes from the Gundam and Gundam Wing series, Ghost in the Shell… and maybe even a little bit of Bach — cuz, let me tell you, Bach was the original musical geek SRSLY! ^___^
Hope to see you there!


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Conquering LilyPond

Woohoo! I am so stoked to announce that I have finally finished the complete engraved rendering of the score and parts to my latest composition, Of Roses and Lilies!

I have been working hard to learn the coding language necessary to operate LilyPond, and after completely hacking away at this particularly gigantic score, with the need for idiosyncrasies in notation related to keyboard, vocal lines with lyrics, strings, and woodwinds, I have emerged victorious! I would not have put so much effort into mastering this program, if the resulting sheet music didn’t look so beautiful and professional! On top of that, in regard to formatting the score/parts, whereas graphical notation software continually presented some bugginess in the output, even after having completed the final product, LilyPond’s formatting is essentially automatic, with the flexibility to adjust each aspect as necessary. To simply type in what is needed and then render and receive an automatically beautiful output, is completely worth the effort it took to learn how this coding works! Plus, now I feel pretty smart, lol. (^‿◕)

And now, Of Roses and Lilies has been added to my sheet music collection for sale! Check it out at my Sheet Music Store!

of roses score sample
“Of Roses…” score sample
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On the Horizon

I have a couple of exciting things on the horizon….

  • First, the FINAL RECORDING SESSION for my new album with PARMA is fast approaching! On December 28th, at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport,
    This place is freaking beautiful!!!!
    This place is freaking beautiful!!!!

    MA, my two chamber works, Counterpoint Invariable for violin trio and Gypsy Wanderer for violin and piano, will be recorded by these marvelously talented ladies:

    • On Gypsy Wanderer: sisters Maria Wozniakiewicz (violin) and Karolina Rojahn (piano).
    • On Counterpoint Invariable: Klaudia Szlachta (violin 1), Julia Okrusko (violin 2 — Julia is the featured first violinist with the New England String Quartet and recorded the definitive recording of my quartet, “Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine“!), and Maria Wozniakiewicz (violin 3).
    • I’ve also had the opportunity to chat with the producer for this recording, Mason Daring (who wrote and recorded the score for the movie, “Music of the Heart,” among other things); I really enjoyed getting to know him and look forward to working with him on the 28th!
    • And our engineer for the session will be the highly knowledgable and experienced Tom Stephenson.
  • Second, I have been asked to compose a full album to go with, and in response to… a novel…! I’m really thrilled about this project! Psychiatrist Jorge Armenteros of Florida has written a creative novel entitled, The Book of I, about a French artist struggling with fragmented personality scenarios–with lots of symbolism and intrigue, from what I hear… I’ll be diving into Jorge’s manuscript very soon, and I’ve already got ideas floating around my brain for new compositions related to this project…
  • And third… I got a pleasant surprise in my inbox the other day, when Simon Belshaw wrote me and said that he plans on including my string quartet “Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” in a modern music concert in the UK that he is in the process of curating. I’m not sure of any of the details at this point, but I am entirely thrilled and flattered that my little work aims to be performed there soon!
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Experimenting with Engraving

A while back, James brought the free, GNU Project software, engraving program LilyPond to my attention. At first, I quickly grew impatient with learning this coding-style, text-input format of this program, and I abandoned it. But, recently, I’ve come back to it, with renewed interest in making my scores and parts much more professional-looking and appealing for those who purchase and read from them.

I laugh, because all it took for me to regain hope in my learning how to use LilyPond’s interface, was taking an hour or two to carefully read merely the first few chapters of the introductory manual. That’s all I needed to get a solid handle on how to think in the text-based terms of this new coding world! Lesson learned: Don’t give up on something until you at least have read the first few pages of the tutorial! :mrgreen:

Well, in my spare time here and there throughout this week, I have  completed the uploading and tweaking and perfecting of the score to Image 2 from my Courage Triptych: “Broken Innocence”. [Note: Completing my score in MuseScore, another free graphic notation system, allows me to save the MuseScore file in a format that LilyPond can read; thus I can simply import, rather starting from scratch… Although, I do anticipate getting to know LilyPond so well that, one day, I may just use the text-based system entirely from the beginning… Wouldn’t that be wild?]

Check out the first page below… This engraving really puts the professional edge on it! And, once you get the hang of how to read the text system, everything else is done automatically, with freedom for you to adjust elements as necessary. It’s a really great system so far — I look forward to eventually converting ALL my available scores and parts to this LilyPond engraving system.

Broken Innocence_SAMPLE