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#NewTuneThursday: “The Elusive Everyman and Her Majesty” from Music for The Book of I

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

“The Elusive Everyman and Her Majesty” represents our main character, forced to live everyday with his mental illness, unsure who is real and who is not… Though that’s not entirely true– all the characters are very real to him.

Here’s how I put the work together; it’s really my most formulaic of the whole suite, which I think suits the mental state of our character…

This track represents one part of the two-fold heart of the main character’s ultimate saga, in my musical interpretation of it. Essentially, this track is comprised of an increasing hodge-podge of melodic fragments — ripped violently from the original works in which they are first found (from “I Know What Death Sounds Like,” “Faces in Foam,” and The Everyman and Her Majesty themes at the beginning of this present track) — that swirl into an angry and frustrating mass of sound and angular textures, up until the very end, when they merge together into The Whiteness of Teaston’s mind. My next track will strive to illuminate musically the flip-side of Teaston’s disjointed thoughts, and the ways in which he attempts to come to terms with his schizophrenia….

Technique-wise, I assembled these fragments by first labeling them both alphabetically and numerically, then, taking seven of Teaston’s own chaotic fragments of thought from random places in the book (“Ever will I?”; “Can I?”; “Consumption”; “Hello Blood”; “The Cliff, Thanks”; “And the Water”; “Even My Face”), I used the letters and syllables of these phrase-lets to “spell” out and overlay the musical phrases.

How many of the phrases from these earlier tracks can you recognize, rushing and overtaking Teaston’s poor troubled mind?

I am fascinated with this work but I have yet to be happy with a performance of it… it’s just such a wickedly tricky work!

There are two versions you can listen to at this point: a live version that’s not entirely accurate but has a lot of heart, and a digital rendition that is spot on as far as accuracy goes but is missing a little bit of the humanness to it… See what you think! 😉

Listen on Amazon Music
Listen on YouTube Music

Listen on Amazon Music (Live Version)
Listen on YouTube Music (Live version)

“The Elusive Everyman and Her Majesty” can be performed by an advanced ensemble. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work…

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Sneak Peek into Recording Prep for “Intrepid”

Coming up soon in these next couple of months, we’ll be recording the epic Fantasy for Oboe/English Horn Soloist and Chamber Orchestra, “Intrepid“! It will be an amazing compliment to the Leviathan E-Violin Concerto on the upcoming album! <3

To prep the upcoming strings-only session — to make the process as easy as possible on my dear friends helping to make this possible — I decided to record myself playing the 2 violin parts and viola part ahead of time. It’ll give me a lot more flexibility in mixing the tracks, and give my players a really solid footing when reading through this together.

One of the things I love about a process such as this, is getting to hear a larger piece broken up into its basic layers–getting to hear what components interact to create the overall effect–and it never ceases to amaze and thrill me! I love music that weaves in and out of itself like a sonic tapestry…

You can get a sense for the intricacy of this work by listening to the following two segments of this prep-recording. Enjoy! 🙂

Want to contribute to this recording? There are several ways you can help:

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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: 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: 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:

Listen on YouTube Music

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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The Music Nerds! #6 – Setting Weird Lyrics

Enjoy this latest educational video, describing my thought processes on how I approach setting asymmetrical text to music as I work on finishing my Bros. Grimm Song Cycle!

Don’t forget you can check out the other videos in this series here!

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Watch the Live Debut of “Fever Pitch”

Last night violist Charlotte Van Houten debuted the unaccompanied solo I wrote for her — and it was just amaaaaaaazing!!!

Enjoy this video I grabbed from the performance…and look forward to an official studio recording of it, with Charlotte again on the solo, coming soon!

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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…

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Sinfonia Shaping Up Nice! Or, Explorations of Hexachords

I am just so stoked about how my new orchestral Sinfonia is shaping up! I got a lot of fascinating work done on it today…

Long story short… I developed an intro theme and then broke that apart to find it was built upon 6 distinct notes (not counting a couple “passing tones”). Then I said to myself, since I have a hexachord here, what would its complement be? Thus, I notated out my second hexachord, creating a full 12-tone-row between them.

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