The other day I posted a video of an orchestrated Art Song/Lieder from the period when I was composing contemporary classical music. I actually did two posts on this before (see here for the one with the most details). Don’t let “classical”, “art song” or Trent’s awful voice drive you away – take listen:
One year I saw far more Black-eyed Susans (flowers) than ever – they were everywhere. Until I went Northern Maine for a week. When I returned, there were no more flowers. A little later, when hiking, I saw some remnants. I wrote this song based on that.
Anyway, a friend/music mentor had been asking for a fugue since I had started my serious study of “classical” music. This person owned an art gallery and had earlier, before I studied composition, commissioned four (4) pieces of music from me over a handful of years. I recently posted the first piece he commissioned, Sortes Vergilianae (The Fanatic), to YouTube and thought I did a post here, but can’t find it. Hmm, maybe I will some day. Anyway, click on that name if you are interested.
Back tot he story, Gary wanted a fugue, but I hadn’t studied fugue in depth, so I kept telling him “no”. Unfortunately, he passed away before he got his fugue. So I decided to write a fugue in the fourth movement here in his memory. Well, almost. I still hadn’t studied fugue and, though I understood how they worked, I didn’t have the form exactly right. So the middle of this is filled with fugue-like sections (fugato), though I think a purist wouldn’t call it “fugue”.
I do like the huge contrasts of super simple and super dense passages in this.
Some of you may have seen my posts on the 1st Movement and the 3rd Movement of my Piano Sonata in c# minor that I have posted recently. I wrote the four movement sonata in 2007 when I was in the middle of my classic composition studies. It was the first, and one of the few, pieces that I wrote because I was inspired to write, not to answer a challenge or to use as a study.
So, now is time for the 2nd Movement, the adagio. Here it is:
A couple of weeks back I posted a video for the 3rd movement of my Piano Sonata in c# minor. After thinking about it, I have decided to put up the entire sonata, one movement at a time. So, without further ado, here is the first:
A little background. Well, a very little, since I already wrote about this piece of music, here. Anyway, long story short(er), As I was working my series of 24 piano preludes, I was posting them to a music forum. A lot of people told me to make a longer version of the prelude in c# minor, so I did. I wasn’t quite satisfied with ending there, so I renamed it “1st movement” and went on from there, not calling it complete until I had the four movement piano sonata completely written.
At the time, late 2007, I was very much in a learning stage and every piece of music I wrote served a purpose in my musical education. Until this piece. Yes, I was still learning, and tried to push my boundaries, putting new ideas into practice, but the big thing here was that this was the first piece of music that I wrote in my “classical phase” “just because”. It was the first piece of this time period that was written because I was inspired to write.
Because this was something composed because i was inspired instead of because i was learning something new, it has a special place in my heart. Of course I also like it better than most of what I wrote in that time frame.
Back in 2007 I was working on a series of 24 Piano Preludes. As I finished each prelude I would often post it on a music forum. The Prelude in C# minor got a lot of attention, and several people said I should expand it and make a larger piece out of it. And so I did. But after that, I decided to continue and create an entire Piano Sonata.
This piano sonata is one of the best things I did back in my “classical” days. The 24 Preludes, when taken as a whole, and The Hamlet Symphony are the only other pieces that in the same league, though I do like my “classical” sonata in g minor.
Of the Sonata in C# minor, the 3rd movement, the Scherzo, is a favorite. Compositionally it isn’t as good as the other movements, but it is a heck of a lot more fun – Scherzo means “little joke”, and this was a joke all around.
It is funny but my mom is much better known in classical music circles than I am. Of course the contemporary classical music that I’ve written has been heard by only a few people. Yes, you can buy a CD of my Hamlet Symphony or listen to some of my classical music here on my blog or on YouTube, but not many have heard it. My mom, though…
I don’t know, maybe 20 years ago, give or take, she bumped into a man at a Cleveland Orchestra concert. They started talking and he said he was a classical composer, that at the time he was concentrating on on Art Song, but he was writing his own lyrics because nobody else said what he wanted to say. So she said, “I’m a poet. How about I send you some of my poems?” Funny thing, he said sure, why not?
The composer’s name is H. Leslie Adams, and he is a well known son of Cleveland, though his music has been (continues to be) played around the world. He’s used a few of my mom’s poems for his music. Continue reading →
One of the very first posts I ever put up on this blog was called Challenge Me! It was about musical challenges that I used to participate in when I followed a music forum back about a decade ago.
Here is a super quick synopsis of that post. Someone would post a phrase or a theme. The “contestants” would compose music based on that theme. The music could take any form, any genre, etc., as long as it used the music software that the music forum was about. The winner of each challenge would post the theme for the next challenge. You can read more on the original post. Continue reading →
Several years ago, when I was deep into composing contemporary classical music, I belonged to a music forum. One of the things we used to do on the forum is have challenges. You can see this post for more detail, but basically the winner of the last challenge would come up with a motif and everyone else had to write a piece of music based on the theme. I thought I had a real chance to win Challenge 12 (I might have if I would have only put in one entry) so I decided to create a theme for Challenge 13, just in case. I wrote a short sample piece to go along with this little motif, not to play as I posted it (no influence to the competitors) but just to show that the abstract motif wasn’t that far out. I didn’t win Challenge 12, so I never used that theme except for this short work. I posted it and everyone loved it, but that was the end. I had always meant to expand it, and the people on the forum expected me to, but I never got around to it and eventually stopped writing classical music.
I really liked the music, Thirteen!, and so I decided to make a little video of that snippet I created as an example. It’s a little dark at the end, so I thought “Halloween”, but I didn’t have time to make Halloween graphics. I used fall foliage scenery, including short videos of me running around in the woods behind my house and call it “autumn inspired” instead of “Halloween” Enjoy! Continue reading →
This movement is in some ways the most beautiful, the most sad, the most delicate, the most simple, the most complicated the… well, you get the idea, there are a lot of contradictions. It is by far my favorite. It doesn’t end here, but goes right into the fifth movement, so the ending is abrupt. Anyway, here is what I wrote about it as I was actually composing the music (I worte most of the below before i wrote the music and then corrected i to fit the music after I was done) ::
In my life I’ve done a few things I’m proud of. For example, I’ve written two books. The first of these books has undergone extensive revision. And yet, in my mind these two books combined pale in comparison to the accomplishment of the Hamlet Symphony. From the first note to the last, every part of this hour long symphony, from notes to phrases to themes to sections to entire movements, interrelate and work together to form a cohesive whole. A note in the third movement is impossible with one from the second.
As many of you know, I decided to release the symphony back in February. All I’ll say is that although The Hamlet Symphony may be the culmination of my musical life, it is definitely not my most successful achievement! The Hamlet Symphony is available on iTunes and Amazon. It’s also available on CD Baby. Try here for Amazon UK.
The Hamlet Symphony is a companion to the famous play and portrays a little of its complexity in music. There are a few scenes set to music, but this isn’t a straight forward soundtrack, being meant more as a reflection on the characters and the action. In some ways The Hamlet Symphony is the emotional reaction one might have while reading or seeing the play. Continue reading →