Showing posts from 2013

Missal Orchestral Suite: Gloria (2nd Movement) Begun!

I've just started the 2nd movement of the Missal Orchestral Suite:  a Gloria section.  I'm thinking right now that it will start with trumpet and brass fanfare to introduce a glorious and lively 2nd movement, especially in contrast to the somber and at times very dark first movement.

I'm thinking of imitating the styles from some of Mozart's Glorias for this particular movement, although I would like to add some of the thicker, dark, and rich texture from the first movement.

Some examples of styles I'll try and imitate:
Gloria from Mozart's Coronation Mass
Gloria from Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor

Finale from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9
Shubert's Unfinished Symphony
Gustav Mahler's 3rd Symphony

The idea is that I would like something in nature like the church music of the 18th Century, but with more textures like the Romantic Era, darker and richer.

More updates on the suite as I get working!  :)

Another Palette for the Compositional Process: Register and Chord Spacing

With the Missal Suite and other works, I've been exploring the possibilities presented in composing by changing the register of melody and harmony and in spacing of the chords.  In the overture of my Missal Suite, I explored a little of the possibilities of the register by having the melody in a lower register at the beginning and raising it to a higher register later on.  I also used some register techniques in my piano sonata.

So what does "register" refer to?  Register is where on an instrument or with a voice something lies on the staff.  When we say "upper register" we are referring to the higher reaches of the instrument or voices capabilities, and "lower register" the lower reaches.  By changing the octave of where something lies, we can change the feeling and color of it.  Here's an example from my piano sonata:

In the opening section, I introduce the melody in one octave.  After the initial introduction, instead of playing the same theme …

First Composition: Concerto No. 1

Here's the first thing that I ever wrote:  Concerto No. 1.  This was a class project for my 7th grade orchestra class.  My teacher asked us to write an 8 bar melody on your instrument to be played in front of the class.  I had recently seen the movie Amadeus, and it fascinated me that someone could do what they were doing in that movie:  writing music.  I decided instead of 8 bars, I would write a full length piece for the class.  What it ended up becoming is this work:

Concerto No. 1

1st Movement

2nd Movement
3rd Movement

In seventh grade, we had played an arrangement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.  The influence from this piece can be very clearly seen in the 1st movement, as well as somewhat in the the third.  I wasn't sure what a concerto was at this time, and so it ended up being more like the original Baroque concertos.  In fact, the original meaning of concerto comes from the latin conserere, meaning to join or bring together.  That's mostly what this and …

Old Music

Being very critical of some of my older works, I haven't quite put up all of them onto this blog yet.  I decided recently, though, that I shouldn't be ashamed of my earlier attempts at composition, and will soon be adding some of these older works.  One I hope to put up pretty soon:  my first composition.  This was a string quartet written in three movements which I wrote when I was thirteen.

This and other works soon to be put under my composition list, ideally with links to listen to the music.

Blast from the Past

I was looking through some of my old compositions and came upon a piano fantasy I started when I was 14:

Piano Fantasy No. 1:

Really fun to look back on these older works of mine and see what I was doing at 13, 14 and 15.  It's also nice to see the contrast between this and later works that are a little bit more developed.

On that note, I have put up some more piano music on, including this piano sonata.  It's now up for sale, so go check it out! :)

Two Piano Fantasies by Timothy Rohwer

Exploring the Rhythmic Palette

In our palette of potential compositional "colors," we have many different choices on how to create a feel.  Today, I wanted to explore just how varying rhythms can change the feel of a piece, and to do this I have take a familiar song and added harmonies to it with varying rhythms to show how varying the underlying harmonic rhythms can change the color and feel of a piece.

First, let's look at a simple harmony underneath with slow rhythms:
Pretty simple harmony, and it ends up sounding more simple and laid back and kind of sweet and good natured:

So, what happens if we change the underlying rhythms?  Here's an eighth note version:

If you'll notice the harmonies in the left-hand, they are the same.  Even the same notes are used as from the previous example, but because the 8th notes contrast with the melody and are quick moving, it adds a much more up-beat feel to this simple melody.

What if we try a homophonic rhythmic texture?

Notice the different feeling with …

Brush Stroke and Palette of a Composition

I have recently been trying to explain how it is that composers compose.  I've been using an analogy that I really like.

Essentially, composing is kind of like painting.  You start out with what you are hoping to convey and then you choose a medium, whether it is charcoal, watercolor, acrylics, etc.  You then select your colors and tools, and you start your art piece.  With each stroke of the brush (if that's what you end up using) you try to use your best judgement as to what will make the painting the beautiful and emotionally desired art work you have in your mind.
We do the same thing with composing:  I have different medium to convey my emotional message, whether full orchestra, rock band, chamber group, solo instrument, etc.  I can then choose how to start using my different coloring elements of key, time signature, harmonic progression, chord structure and voicing/spacing, rhythmic elements, melody, counter-melody, etc.  Then I start to take these elements and combine t…

Experimentation and Growth in Composing

I recently started writing small and simple works intended for use in video games and have realized some valuable things from this.  None of these are meant to be masterpieces or for profit in anyway, and it took the pressure off of me to just play around with different musical elements.  This has made me realize how powerful it can be to have a venue where you can experiment with an art form without fear of restrictions or a need to be "perfect."

The first thing I noticed while doing these compositions was that I felt more able to play with compositional elements I had been afraid beforehand to explore.  For example, in two rock-like compositions, I started using some different rhythmic devices I have never before tried to use.  One piece uses a different meter super-imposed in the drum set over the melody's meter.  The result was pretty satisfactory, but even if it hadn't turned out to be, I wouldn't have minded so much.  Another idea I played with were some di…

Unique source for Inspiration

I was at work this morning, and there was one of the loaders who had some music on.  I wasn't too thrilled with it (especially rap, which I have yet to be a fan of), but I started to hear some of the unique ways in which they used subtle, low bass notes to emphasize portions of what they were rapping about.  The first thing that I thought was how much goes into making quality music, and-whether I like the music or not-how much I can learn from all different kinds of music.
For example, I have been trying to write some music for video games and I take a lot of my inspiration for these from 80's techno styles and other rock sources.  The way many pop music artists construct their music is done in such a way to make it catchy and able to be listened to over and over again without people getting tired of it.  This is exactly what you need for music in games:  something people will like listening to again and again without thinking of it as annoying, and something catchy that they …


I wanted to update my blog with music players and cool stuff like that, and I was killing myself trying to figure out how to use Google Drives to put an mp3 on my blog. (There's a way to do it, trust me, but it's beyond me) In my research I found out a really cool site: OpenDrive.
Not only can I store my mp3's there, they even have the code I can put in my blog to embed the mp3 files so I can have a cool little player with it. Pretty nifty! Anyone looking for how to put music on their blogs, I would highly recommend OpenDrive. Here's all you have to do:

1) Upload your mp3 to OpenDrive.
2) Right click on the file and click on links
3) Copy the HTML embed code given by OpenDrive
4) In your blog, webpage, etc. go to where you would like to put your player (make sure you are in HTML mode) and paste the HTML embed code
5) In some cases, you may need to also add formatting stuff, like a line break: <br />    This will help keep things looking nice.  :)

What you en…

Hymn arrangements for violin

I was talking with a friend yesterday with whom I play in a string quartet and in the Idaho Falls Symphony.  We got talking about how little music there is arranged for violin and viola for playing in our Latter Day Saint Sacrament meetings on Sundays and how little she likes to arrange works for them.  She suggested I start writing arrangements of hymns for violin and viola, having played the piano for an arrangement I made of "I am a Child of God" which I played on my viola with my wife who plays the oboe.  It'll be nice to start arranging hymns for the LDS community to be able to use, and I felt like it would be a nice way to get my music out there and to consecrate my time and talents.
Some ideas for new arrangements for solo violin with accompaniment:  "Abide with Me,"  "Lead, Kindly Light," and "Joseph Smith's First Prayer."  If anyone has any thoughts for arrangements that they would like to see, just post on my blog here, and I&#…

Finished Overture

I started working on my Orchestral Suite the other morning, and to my surprise I finished the Overture.  I had been expecting to spend at least another month or so working on it, but as I worked I realized it was about ready to be finished.  I added some final touches that I felt helped close it out.  The Overture is now in the draft stages, where I may make some minor adjustments to orchestration and also where I will edit the score and the parts to get ready to have them performed.  I fell great about how it has come along, and I especially love the transition from a dark opening into a bright and peaceful finish.

Here's where this piece kind of started out at about a year ago:

And here's where it has come:

Orchestral Suite Work

Work continues on the Overture.  For now, it will probably be a stand alone work to be submitted to the Arizona Pro Arte society's call for scores competition.  Thoughts are also going into the next movement:  Gloria.  This will start in a major key and be much quicker paced.

New Beginnings, but work continues: Orchestral Suite Update

I recently realized that, as much as was trying to get around doing it (i.e., ignoring it), I needed to create a new beginning to the Orchestral Suite Overture.  So, I put some hard work in and created a new beginning attached right before what the old beginning was.  The result is very successful, I feel.  I'm liking how this is sounding so far.  (Since I'm very critical of my own stuff, if I like it I figure that's a very good thing)

Here is the link:

Work Continues!!

After a few months of sorting things out with my schedule, I have begun work again on some of my major compositions.  I'm putting the most effort into things for my students, but I have also worked quite a bit more on my tone poem, which is coming along very nicely indeed!  New updates soon to come!  Hoozah!  Indeed!

Orchestral Suite

I thought I might create a blog entry with some extra insights into my inspirations, and so I've added some links to allow the reader also to listen to the inspirations for this piece.

I've started a new composition that has taken inspiration from several classical Eras and many varying composers:  Mozart, J.S. Bach, Shostakovich, Dvorak, and Stravinsky to name a few.

While playing in the Christmas Concerto concert for the Idaho Falls Symphony, conductor Thomas Heuser commented that the Stravinsky piece we were playing was inspired by Bach.  I decided that a composition I had started (and was unsure how to continue) would be a perfect opportunity to try some of the French Overture styles employed by Bach in his orchestral suites, especially with the cool double-dotting technique that would add a march-like feel to my pieces.  I decided a Neo-Romantic, Quasi-Baroque style would fit my piece well.

While working on the first movement, based on the form of Bach's orchestral su…

Orchestral Suite Entry to Come

I've started a new piece, which I will divulge more on soon.  My hope is to give some insight into the compositional inspirations, so I'm going to add links to the music that has been inspiring the music.  More to come soon. :)