…the [Book of I] soundtrack composed by Sarah Wallin Huff stands out as both a powerful album, taking its listener on an emotional journey of beauty, despair, and hope, as well as a fascinating study of the composer’s visceral and intellectual connection to the source material. Featuring the stellar work of musicians Darrell Peries, Caleb Barnes, Cathy Alonzo, Jenna Ford, Lainey Elizabeth White, Brett Bird, Jonatas Mostacato, Ayla Draper, and [Wallin] Huff herself, the album is a stunning collection of gorgeous, orchestral selections comprised mostly of string instruments that are, at times, vividly haunting but always entirely engrossing. [Wallin] Huff, who previously released her own album, Soul of the Machine, earlier this year, clearly has a passion and a gift for sharing every ounce of her mind, body, and soul with the listener, as if providing a warm invitation for the listener to share the same in response.
It is the third piece “The Oracle” that is the crème de la for me with its incredible depth and creative complexity. Dynamics take deep hold here with sudden bursts and calming moments. I really hear the room when flute and clarinet parts elevate along with the brilliant staccato keyboard hits. There are moments when time seems to fall apart and then strings back together in a wonderful interplay among the musicians.
Sarah’s music has a classy, understated sound, yet it is baroque and ornate, tipping the hat off to genius composers like Debussy, but also tipping the hat off experimental ideas and cinematic scores. Opening number “Intrepid” is a very dynamic composition with a unique color, almost echoing the work of modern composers like Yann Tiersen.
Weeping Willow, featuring “Michael Jung,” is one of our favorite tracks on this release. I love the romantic, dramatic high notes of the string section, as well as the timeless sound of the sparse piano melodies, almost flirting with shades of Tango, in the vein of Astor Piazzolla. A true masterpiece, with so many nuances. The album is also home to a suite extending over 3 tracks, “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep.” These songs also features ambient samples, as well as electronic elements and ornate percussions, making for a really diverse set of colors.
Sometimes the idea behind the music is just as interesting as the music itself…the music on this album “…explores the relationships between mechanical structures, organic beauty, and identity.” …Wallin Huff presents three unusual compositions that tackle some intriguing ideas and topics… Her music is quite complex and unusual and yet…very easy to absorb and appreciate. There’s a lot to take in here… Our favorite is the wonderfully moody and subtle “Gypsy Wanderer”…nothing short of breathtaking.
Based on an unaccompanied violin partita variation from the eighteenth century by Bach, layers of electronic elements breathe new life into this classic. Also appearing on this release is “Sonata Moderna (Remastered)” from 2010. “Sonata Moderna” is based on a piece from the seventeenth century (“Sonata sopra la Monica” by Biagio Marini). It was the May 2016 Akademia Winner for Best Ambient/Instrumental Song. Featuring two violins and cello with rock rhythm and chords, the past is united with the present in this driving work.
Enjoy this little amuse-bouche of mashed-up music! 🙂
Based on a set of traditional Scottish tunes, this 5.5 minute long work is a sweeping journey of melody, color, and heart. Beginning somberly with a single violin, it soon opens up and begins driving forward. Each consecutive tune increases in tempo and ferocity until the set ends in a passionate, victorious rendition of the title tune, “Bonnie Prince Charlie.” Though the melodies reflect the ageless tunes on which they’re based, the chords and harmony parts are all original, bringing the classic fiddle sound into a fresh, modern light.
This work took a long time to put together, in the sense that I grew up “fiddling around” on each of these traditional tunes, and others. So I guess this medley is sort of a microcosm of my joyful foray into traditional Celtic music throughout my youth. I eventually had an opportunity to use the ending arrangement of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” with another song that I was playing with a band. And from there, it just evolved into this awesomely fun work!
There are currently two versions of the sheet music available:
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:
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…
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”!
So, May is shaping up to be a really exciting month of debuts and unique concerts! First up…
This is shaping up to be a really fun gig of Modern Music with a Twist! Lainey and I will be joined by four of our talented friends and guest musicians to play instrumental music that is a unique blend of folk, rock, and electronic — you won’t want to miss this!
The only way we’re guaranteed the chance to perform for you – both this show and future shows – is if we can show the venue and booking company that we have fans who are dedicated to showing up and enjoying our music. How does that happen? By purchasing your tickets for May 19 NOW!
**Afton has just given our fans a new discount code!!! Enter MEMORIES956 before May 11 and save $2 — I am also continuing my FREE MERCH offer with this promotion! Order your ticket before May 11 and choose any one of my albums for free! **
Come to Silverlake Lounge on May 19, 7pm and join Lainey White and myself for a set of all-original compositions and arrangements featuring acoustic fiddle and 6-string electric violin, with electronics, percussion, guitar and more!
With just 5 days left to take advantage of this discount, I am offering a special gift to all who pre-order tickets before the April 30 deadline — with every discounted ticket purchase, you can choose one album from my discography list for FREE!
Not only do you save money with this promo code and receive your free gift – but you ALSO help us ensure the show goes on, by buying Tickets in advance versus paying the higher door price.
On Friday, May 29, I’ll be performing my own work for violin and classical guitar – “Solitude’s Hypocrisy” from The Book of I OST – at this alumni event with excellent guitarist, John Paul Trotter! And, I’ll get to fiddle around with the jazz band, too! 😉
The Cal Poly Pomona Music Department’s Annual Year-End Celebration “Celebrate Me Home” includes a Mixer at 6:30PM on the recital hall patio and an Alumni Concert at 8:00pm in the recital hall.
The Mixer is a fun time for students, faculty, staff, and alum to get together, reconnect and make new friends. Music at the Mixer will be provided by M.U.S.E. (Music Uniting Student Entertainers) club members. Light food and beverages included.
Music alum from the last four decades will take the stage at 8:00pm and perform to benefit a new Alumni Scholarship.