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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: 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: 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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Free Vintage Style Concert for Violin and Piano Next Week!

Check out the awesome little concert I’ll be doing with pianist, Lydia Wu, Friday night, Jan 5, 2018! We’re so looking forward to playing this charming music for you… Featuring musical sweets from Fauré, Elgar, Amy Beach…and even Yours Truly… ?

Hope to see you there! ☺️ ???

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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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New Leviathan Concerto Video Tells the Epic Tale…

Get a glimpse into the world of the Leviathan E-Violin Concerto with this new music 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!

Get the recording here, and the book here, in digital and paperback formats.