Showing posts from 2014

New Arrangement: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I recently finished a new arrangement and uploaded it to Free LDS Sheet  It is an updated version of an old arrangement I wrote of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."  Come check it out!  There are also some of my other arrangements and original hymn posted there, along with many other neat resources.  This site is great for those who are looking for something for their ward choir or for a musical number in sacrament meeting or a fireside.

As always, you can also find these here on my blog.

Fugue Updates: Lemonade from lemons

After coming back this week to work on the fugue that I had originally started last week, I found that somehow it had all been erased except the first measure.  I was a little flustered and frustrated by this, until I realized it could be an excellent opportunity to start again with some fresh ideas and some new insights.  So, here is a newly updated fugue with a completely different subject.  Again, the subject was one that I wanted to be something you would be okay hearing again and again throughout the piece, and the counter-subject something to match it in enjoyable-ness, and yet not to be too "overbearing," to drown out the subject.

Thinking as well about last week's attempts, I realized too that a 4-voice fugue for piano would have to be carefully crafted to include all four voices in such a way that no voices were lost, there would be little to no crossing of voices (lower voices going higher then higher voices and vice versa), and this would all need to be conta…

Weekly Warm-Ups: Exploring the Fugue

I've been thinking about grad school and some of the essential knowledge and skills that I'll need, and one that has come to mind is counterpoint.  Since I began learning about counterpoint, I have been fascinated with this compositional technique.  In High School, I began to write two part inventions for piano, and ended up writing about 26-28 of them.  I don't exactly remember because somehow in throwing out some old school work, I must have managed to throw these out as well.  It's probably just as well since I had a limited understanding at best of harmony, of counterpoint, and of music theory and composition in general.  My guess is that they would have ended up sounding quite gross, to say the least.

However, my fascination with polyphony continued, and I eventually wrote a fugue that took as its theme the Mario Brothers theme, changed a little to sound a little more classical.  In the end, I came up with a very classical sounding Fugue on a Theme.  This was play…

New Hymn Arrangement for Piano and Choir: I heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I've recently reworked an arrangement for choir and piano I did several years back of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."  The result is in the Hymn Arrangement section and will also soon been on (if you've never used this site, it is so excellent for finding nice arrangements of hymns and original music as well!)

Also, I should soon be able to continue more on the weekly warm-ups and give updates on some of the other compositions!  There may even be an opportunity soon to have one of my compositions performed, but we'll see how that works out.  Thanks, everyone!

Weekly Warm-Ups?

Having lacked time and energy, my plan to weekly spend time writing at least part of something fun as a warm-up to stretch my composing abilities has suffered considerably.  However, things have somewhat settled down and I've been able to do some composing and have a new short snippet to post, and here it is:


My goal with this was two-fold:
1) Write something in a compound meter (something which I haven't used quite as often).  In this case, I used 6/8

2) Write something that is happy, fun, and light-hearted (something I also haven't done as often, at least lately)

The result I felt was quite pleasing.  What I tried to do to add to that light-heartedness was to make the tempo very jaunty and almost dance-like.  I also used a lot of chromatic non-harmonic tones to help add to the almost silly feeling.   I originally had the melody in the Viola (partly from personal bias, partly from necessity), but felt that brass could more effectively portray that silly and …

Canon in D transcribed for Viola, iPad and other Apple Device Capable

The player from Open Drive that I've been using for my blog has encountered some problems with iPad, iPod, iPhone, and other Apple type devices.  The Canon in D now has a link to stream the music directly.  See the Viola section under Educational Resources.  I've tested it out on an apple device, and it is up and running. If for some reason it is not working on your own device and you would like to listen to something in particular, leave a message for me, and I'll figure out how to get it working or how to get you the file.  :)

New Educational Resources: Canon in D transcribed for Viola

A new accompaniment has been added to the Educational Resources of the blog.  It is an accompaniment of Canon in D transcribed for Viola.  Check it out in the Viola section of the Educational Resources.

Score Practice: Update 1

Having gotten some more time to work on some composing, I've got an update on the last warm-up exercise I've been performing for the past two weeks.  My intent was to take a YouTube video, put it on mute, and then write a soundtrack to it.  I chose my video and got to work.

So far I have not heard back from the owner of the video.  When I do, I hope to put the soundtrack in the background of the video so you can see how the two correlate to each other.

For now, here is what I have so far for my soundtrack:

The process of doing this has been very instructive.  A few of the considerations I've had to take into account for this exercise:
1) Matching the style of the video and the overall feeling in the soundtrack with what's happening in the background.
The video I chose has only one mood, which is nice for me to practice with.  I've felt that this video has a calm, serene, and even beatific quality to it, and that is what I've tried to make my composition feel …

Score Pracitce

This week I decided I would try my hand at trying to score for a movie.  I went on to YouTube and found a video I liked, turned it on mute, and then started writing.  It's been interesting so far.  I've contacted the owner of the video and hope to have a response soon as to whether I can put the video with the music on this blog, but if not, I'll showcase my attempt sans video.

Some interesting dilemmas so far:  trying to find the right orchestration to fit the background and trying to line up the music to correspond with the video.  Also, though at the beginning stages, I'm hoping to make something that could stand on its own, with a discernible melody and form that does not get boring or repetitive as the piece/video goes on.  We'll see soon how I've done!

Exercises, Warm-Ups and Having Fun (Update)

The results are in for this new way of composing for me, and I can already tell that it is going to be an effective change in my compositional technique.  Several things I noticed:

When I felt that the piece I was working on was "just for fun," and wasn't expecting the piece to be a masterpiece, it freed up my creativity and helped me feel comfortable to try out things I wasn't as familiar with.  For example, I tried several unusual ostinatos, different special effects, and some chord progressions that I haven't used as much in the past.  When I've been composing "official" pieces, I've been somewhat hesitant to use any of these neat but currently difficult for me to use techniques.
Because I wasn't thinking as much about a final result, I was also able to let the form take on whatever shape it seemed to need, and the piece I worked on didn't feel contrived or fitted to a specific pattern. 
I also was having fun and feeling as if I was a…

Exercises, Warm-Ups and Having Fun

I have been struggling lately in finding time, energy, will-power, etc. to compose.  Dealing with this frustration and a desire to move on soon to grad school, I've been pondering what's been inhibiting me from composing.  Several different things have come to mind:
1) I've been trying to compose often when I get home from work after working sometimes more than 8 hours.  I'm too tired by this point to want to do much but sit back and not do anything.
2) I've been working on official pieces, ones that I'm hoping to use for grad school, and there has been too much pressure to get them all "perfect," each one needing to be a masterpiece.

Several solutions have come to mind:
1) Work in the morning when I'm not tired and I still have energy left to compose;
2) Spend time pondering as I'm going about my day about what needs to come next on certain pieces; and (most importantly)
3) Spend time every composition session (hopefully this will turn out to…

Rohwer Skill Acquisition Pyramid

I've been talking to my students for a while about my pyramid of learning skills and wanted to share some of the insights I've gleaned as to how people learn how to do stuff, more particularly as it applies to the arts. These are kind of the rambling thoughts I've had on the subject, and might be a little scattered still a the moment as I am still developing the ideas that are here.

As I got finished teaching a few students one day, I realized that their pattern of learning followed a certain path, and that that same path was the same for me as I was beginning to learn how to play, and it has continued since then down that same path.  With these insights, I started to formulate a model for how people not only learn how to play music, but how they learn to a number of different skills.  What I came up with was this:

Learning a new skill first involves the basic technique of how to do it.  For musicians, this involves the functions of holding an instrument and making sounds o…

New Piano Accompaniments

I've started work on a new section under Educational Materials:  Piano Accompaniments.  These piano accompaniments use Noteflight, a social networking and composition site. Noteflight is an awesome resource to use for all kinds of music needs, and the basic sign-up is free.

One neat thing that noteflight allows you to do is to change the tempo, which is invaluable for students still learning their parts.  It's not as effective or comprehensive as SmartMusic or similar software. But being free to use, it certainly has excellent advantages.
So far, the section is still under construction.  I hope to include different subsections, categories by instruments, etc.  A few accompaniments and links are now up there, so stop by and check out what's on it so far!

Showcase Section

I've recently added a new section on my blog to highlight some different neat things.  I wanted to have somewhere I could showcase some neat music I've been listening to, some of my friends works, and some of my own stuff that I'm proud of.  You can find this section either on the top bar, or along the right side.  While both the main showcase page and the sidebar section are still under construction, my plan is to include some neat things that will change from week to week, such as: a highlight of a classical composer's works and a little bit about him/her, a modern composer's works, some of my own compositions and what I've been doing with them,, neat articles I've found on music and composing, and other things that I have not yet decided on. :)

Check it out when you have a chance, and let me know if there are any things you'd like to see on there or see changed!

This week's composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich!  Awesome composer, excellent and haunting…

Pietà: Sculpting a Composition

As promised, here's a little bit about some changes I've made on the lyrical movement of my recent piano sonata.  To start off, here's the most recent update on what it sounds like:

Bear in mind, this is still a very rough version of this piano sonata.  I've yet to figure out a few rough spots in the minor section and some overall structural concerns I've had.

I've been spending most of my composing time focusing on this sonata, and some recent changes I made have made me wonder about why a composer changes things that sound okay, and how this refining process can take an okay composition and turn it into a better composition, and - hopeful - can even change it into a masterpiece.
Being a perfectionist, I find I spend a lot of my time (more at times than I like) writing and re-writing sections that at least earlier I felt worked really well already.  This raises a few questions in my mind about composing in general:
-What makes one note better than another?

Come, Come, Ye Saints Arrangement Now Available for Download

A new arrangement is available for download in the Violin & Viola Arrangement section.  It's an arrangement of "Come, Come, Ye Saints" played for a Stake Night of Music, and every instrument features the melody at some point.  Have a listen:

 For the present time, this arrangement will be free to download. Soon to come also will be the same arrangement with a cello part in place of the violin and some updates on previous arrangements.

Piano Sonata 2nd Movement

I've continued to work on the 2nd movement of the piano sonata, and have a short clip from the work done so far on it.  I'm hoping to discuss soon some of the changes I made from what I originally had and why I made those changes, but for now here is a listen to what I've got so far:

Harmony Postlude: Mary Had a Little Lamb in Minor

As a precursor to an upcoming discussion on harmonies (or a "postlude," if you will pardon the musical pun), I wanted to rewrite "Mary Had a Little Lamb" again with the same melody but different harmonies, placed in such a way to put it in a minor instead of a major key.  This wasn't too hard, as there are only three notes (4 notes in some versions) in the whole song.  Here's the minor version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb:"

While this is the same exact melody, a change in the harmonies can give the song a different feel, in this case quite sinister and very dark.  Since the melody used only DO, RE, and MI in the original key, I turned these into ME, FA, and SOL for the minor version.

I've utilized a similar technique for my Piano Sonata to help change the feel of different movements but to connect them together.  The first movement is in A minor and starts out in the melody with a B-flat grace note going to the tonic, A.  The second movement is …

Spoils of War: Chance Music Experimentation Results

After spending some time moving, I've been able to get back to experimenting with the chance music piece I started preparing for a week ago.  The results are quite interesting:  something that sounds kind of neat and quite tonal overall.

Here's what it sounds like:

Not necessarily great, but I think it turned out quite interesting.

Here's my methodology for creating this piece.

First of all, I played a game of chess against the computer (and lost:  I'm not great at chess). I recorded all of the moves that were made and using a chess board pitch chart I'd created earlier, I found out what pitches corresponded to what moves.

My pitch charts were based on 2 major things:  1) As I was reading about chess, it was mentioned that the center of the board is the most important place.  The pitches I felt would be most important to establish the tonality were placed in the center of the board so that they would more likely be fell on. 2) Whether the section using the move/pitc…

Tonal Chance Music?

I've been toying with an idea in my head for a long time now, and have started to put it into conception:  How could I write aleatoric music that sounds tonal? When I thought about it, the answer was quite obvious:  if I control the possible elements that are going into the piece, I will control the tonality of the piece.  Not only that, I could 'write' a composition with largely chance elements involved, but sculpt them in such a way to make something that may even sound melodious, and might even have classical forms in it.

To this end, I've started putting together some different ideas for a 3-movement piano sonata that will be written as a chance piece.  I will strive to incorporate the appropriate form by controlling elements in each section.  For my first attempt, I am going to use two different chance mediums:  rolling of dice and a chess game.

For rhythms, I will use dice to determine which of several sets of measures to use for different sections in the piece.…

Viola Scale Book and Other Free Resources

After working with the BYU-Idaho Help Desk, we got our computer back up and running, and I have now put some of the promised free resources on to the blog. In addition, I have created the first edition of a Viola and a Violin Scale Exercise book which are now available at a discounted rate for purchase through!

Violin Scale Exercise Book 2

Viola Scale Exercise Book 2

Some of the additions:  more scale and arpeggio stuff and more songs for the Violin section.  There are some sight reading exercises (pre-cursors to what will eventually be a sight-reading book), Frere Jacques, and my child-friendly "What Would You Do With a Tired Sailor?" (What would you do with a tired sailor?  Put him in the long-boat until he's woken.)  There's also a worksheet section which will probably expand soon, but we'll see if I have time to do it.

In addition, I'm starting to build up a few things on the Viola section.  A few songs, etc.  Most of my students have been violin,…

Free Educational Resources Section

I've spent some time updating the education section of my blog, and will soon be putting up a lot of different resources, some for my private students, but generally free to use for the public.  Here's the link to this updated new section:  Educational Materials.

I had a new student start taking lessons a little bit ago, and she was a little bit older and more able to use technology, and I thought about putting up some scales and other things that she could download and use so she wouldn't need to go out and buy a scale book or other things.  I realized that this could be a useful resource to put up for all of my students and for other teachers and their students also.  I started changing and moving things around on my blog to get the new pages set up, and I now I have the beginnings of my education section.
Some things that will be included: -A section on each page for free resources that I have created for use with my students -Other extremely useful resources from outs…

Updates to Composition List!

I've recently taken some time to update my composition list to include some neat new stuff.  This includes more mp3's of music, more information on the origins of the compositions, and some new organization to help stuff look a little neater and cleaner.

Work will probably continue on it for the next few months as I put more of the stuff I wrote before college and add some new pages to help with the overall layout.  Come take a look and let me know what you think!

3 Works

I've started putting work back into three different compositions that have been on hold for a bit.

The oldest is the string quartet I started back in 2009, of which I only have the first movement fully written.  I've started and restarted the lyrical movement (not even 100% sure if it will be the 2nd or 3rd movement yet, although I've been leaning towards 3rd lately).  I've been debating the form of the movement also.  DaCapo Aria seems most likely, although I've also thought about Theme and Variations, and also about no form in particular, more through-composed.  As work progresses, I'll feel this movement out and will see what feels most appropriate.

The next work is the 2nd movement of my Piano Sonata in A Minor.  This second movement I wanted to start in F Major so I could use the B-flat to A motive from the first movement at the beginning to help tie this movement in with the 1st.  With the first movement, I wanted to depict grief and fear.  With the 2nd, m…

Delving into different styles: music for video games

I've been doing some work exploring different styles to add to my video game music section.  The results can be seen on that page, but I wanted to highlight one piece I just finished.

I wanted to make a catchy tune that gamers could enjoy listening to and wasn't too repetitive.  I also wanted to write the piece so it has an ending, but so that it could also loop if a game programmer decided that that's what they would like for it to do.  The result is this:

I tried to go by instinct and the small smattering of knowledge I have of rock/jazz stuff, but I think the result is nice, and I feel something that could be listened to a lot but not get too annoying.  Overall, I feel it was a success.  It was nice too, since I've been a bit burnt out since I finished the Overture to the Missal Suite (that, and working 2 jobs and teaching students has worn me out a bit too).  It was just nice to finish something, and do something fun with composing, especially something lower stres…