The Snail Raises His Horns

This piece was written in response to Naviarhaiku 228 – A snail.
  A snail
 Raising its horns:
 Edge of the well.

This is a haiku by accomplished Japanese haiku poet and novelist Natsume Soseki, author of Kokoro, Botchan, I Am a Cat and his unfinished work Light and Darkness.

Depending on how you look at them, snails can be the most boring creatures in the world or the most fascinating. When I look at the images of Ukrainian photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko I tend toward the latter, so the simple act of a snail raising its horns beside water can become something quite magical.

The Snail Raises His Horns is written for Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Horn, Trombone, Violin, Viola, and Cello.

The Snail Raises His Horns
The Snail Raises His Horns – Score

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Lucky Rounds

Lucky Rounds was written in response to Disquiet Junto Project 0332: Lucky Numbers.

  Step 1: Think about how a string of numbers might inform — might seed — a short musical composition.
  Step 2: Locate the lottery numbers near your — or, if you live somewhere that doesn’t have a lottery, find someplace that does.
  Step 3: Having located a set of lottery numbers, then compose and record a short composition that is somehow based on them.

Looking at winning lottery numbers in Maryland, I found the list 11, 16, 38, 50, 69, 19. By multiplying the first number by 40, the result is the standard 440 hz for the note A, so I multiplied the other numbers by 40, yielding 640, 1520, 2000, 2760 and 760. Of course, none of these frequencies fall on notes in the well tempered system, and not being into micro-tonality, I selected the note closest to each frequency, the full row being A, E, G, C, F, G.

To reinforce the sequence in the piece I decided to make the composition a round, and titled it Lucky Rounds, partially due to the nature of the note selection, and partially because after numerous attempts to get the piece to work, it finally just fell into line with what I was looking for.

Lucky Rounds was written for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello and String Bass.

Lucky Rounds
Lucky Rounds – Score

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Morning Coolness

This piece was written in response to Naviarhaiku 227 – Morning coolness.

  Morning coolness:
  dewdrops swaying
  in the spiderweb

This is a haiku by Betty Drevniok, one of the founders of the Haiku Society of Canada. The Betty Drevniok Award is an annual competition organized by Haiku Canada.

After a long winter I love the warm, but do not at all mind the coolness of the morning. This piece depicts this stillness, when I am less interested in hurrying and more inclined to just appreciate a new day.

Morning Coolness is written for Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trombone, Vibraphone, Glockenspiel, Violin, Viola, Cello and String Bass.

Morning Coolness
Morning Coolness – Score

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Sleeping Awake

This piece was written in response to Naviarhaiku 226 – he won’t go to sleep.

  he won’t go to sleep
  unless we play him the tune
  that keeps him awake

This is a haiku by Alvaro Cardona-Hine, poet, painter, composer and long-time Zen student; born in Costa Rica, he spent most of his adult life in the US, and in 1986 opened an art gallery in Truchas, New Mexico, together with his wife Barbara McCauley.

One of the things I love about haiku is the fact that oftentimes there is so much to interpret, and the fun comes with seemingly contadictory statements.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get a grasp on this particular poem and as I was thinking Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade happened to come on the radio. The idea of idee fixe was combined with a problem I occasionally have where I will sleep for a couple of hours then wake up, sleep another hour then wake up again, until the night has been filled with this pattern. Sleep is an important element in Scheherazade, so the poem’s interpretation became a bit more clear to me.

Sleeping Awake is written for Clarinet, Vibraphone, Violin, Viola, and Cello.

Sleeping Awake
Sleeping Awake – Score

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Five Minutes With Lia

Not long after my granddaughter turned two years old I put her on my lap and had her play the piano. I had done this numerous times in the past, but this time I decided to record what she played. As it turned out, this time she went on for about five minutes.

Almost a year later I decided to do something with this recording, so I transcribed it. I decided to assign what she had played to a clarinet and trombone, taking a few minor liberties to allow it to actually be playable. I then inserted an accompaniment of viola, cello and string bass to compliment her composition.

Five Minutes With Lia
Five Minutes With Lia – Score

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Looking For Planes (for one piano)

This was written in response to Disquiet Junto Project 0330: Wax Off.

A little over a year ago I offered Looking For Planes – Looking, the first of a three part piece for two pianos that dealt with my granddaughter looking for airplanes flying overhead. I completed the other two parts and made them available.

  Step 1: Make a piece of music by erasing aspects of a pre-existing track. You’ll be taking an earlier audio track of your own and reworking it.

  Step 2: The theme of this project is “erasure.” You will be removing material from the track you selected in Step 1. Consider what “erasure” can mean in terms of sound: removal, texture, fragments, artifacts, etc. What techniques would erasure entail?

  Step 3: Apply the concepts and techniques you came up with in Step 2 to the track you selected in Step 1. The new track should remain the same length as the source track. That is, the canvas is to be the same, and only the contents are to be altered.

The original three part piece, Looking For Planes, was written for two pianos. I had started working on a single piano arrangement but set it aside because of the difficulty. When confronted with this week’s junto project I decided to get back to work and complete the erasure of one of the pianos in the original version.

This version of Looking For Planes was written for piano.

Looking For Planes
Looking For Planes – Score

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Wild Geese Take Flight

This piece was written in response to Naviarhaiku 225 – The wild geese take flight.

  The wild geese take flight
  Low along the railroad tracks
  In the moonlight night

This is a haiku by Masaoka Shiki, a Japanese poet, author, and literary critic in Meiji period Japan. Shiki is regarded as a major figure in the development of modern haiku poetry.

I’ve done a good bit of hiking, and one of the pleasures is coming across a large pond filled with geese. They are magestic both coming and going, and I have a feeling of awe whenever I am fortunate enough to experience this.

Wild Geese Take Flight is written for two Trombones, Gong, Vibraphone, Harp, two solo Violins, solo Viola, solo Cello, solo String Bass, and chorus.

Wild Geese Take Flight
Wild Geese Take Flight – Score

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