Indian Summer

This piece was written in response to Naviarhaiku 232 – Indian Summer.

  Indian summer:
  dragonfly shadows seldom
  brush the window.

This is a haiku by Masaoka Shiki, mostly known for having revitalized haiku in the time when, after centuries of isolation, Japan opened to the West and was flooded with new ideas from abroad.

I just returned from a wonderful week in a cottage by a lake, watching dragonflies hover and move as I sat reading. The stillness and calm of the near solitude gave be a basis for this piece.

Indian Summer was written for Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trombone, solo Violin and solo Viola.

Indian Summer
Indian Summer – Score

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Hold Music

Hold Music was written in response to Disquiet Junto Project 0335: Alone Time.

  Step 1: Hold music is a ubiquitous fact of modern life. Ask yourself what hold music you’d like to hear while waiting for someone to pick up the other end of the line, or while waiting for a conference call to begin.

  Step 2: Record a short piece of hold music that satisfies the scenario you pondered in Step 1. Your finished track should be suitable for looping, since you never know how long you’re going to be on hold.

The idea of hold music really should be about giving the person waiting something to listen to, but it is always tame and boring. Wouldn’t it be nice if the hold music contained something that made the listener think, “So what the hell is this?” Wouldn’t it be more fun to be entertained instead of feeling like one was trapped in an elevator?

I wrote Hold Music to fulfill what I would like to hear – something one is not going to hear in this situation. The piece is very short and can be repeated, though my guess is that after the third time the listener would run away screaming (perhaps the intention after all).

Hold Music was written for five violins.

Hold Music
Hold Music – Score

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To The End Of The Field

This piece was written in response to Naviarhaiku 230 – To the end of the field.

  To the end of the field
  All alone I go
  Autumn sky

This is a haiku by Natsume Sōseki, Japanese novelist, scholar of British literature and composer of haiku.

This haiku reminded me of the many hikes I took into the wilderness. Sometimes I would be in the forest for a couple of days before reaching a clearing, which opened to a new world. This piece is my feeling of walking through the field to continue the trail back into the forest.

To The End Of The Field was written for Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trombone, Violins, Viola and Cello.

To The End Of The Field
To The End Of The Field – Score

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Nine Guitars

Nine Guitars was written in response to Disquiet Junto Project 0334: Mass Branca.

  Step 1: This project is a tribute to the late avant-garde composer and guitarist Glenn Branca, who died earlier this month. Among Branca’s many musical systems was to have a vast number of musicians, say 100 guitarists for example, perform together. We’re going to explore that mass of sound to produce a mass in Branca’s memory. It will be a Mass Mass.

  Step 2: Pick a single sound source, an instrument perhaps, but really anything that makes a specific sound.

  Step 3: Use multiple layers of this sound source to record a piece of music.

Instead of finding a sound source, I made my own with a simple melody that gets played by nine guitars. The confusion is such that increasing the number of guitars would basically be redundant. The result is a four minute piece of music that makes believe it is Branca’s Symphony #13 (which does use 100 guitars), but more closely imitates his Lesson No. 1 For Electric Guitar.

Nine Guitars was written for (wait for it) … Nine Guitars.

Nine Guitars
Nine Guitars – Score

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Finally, A Clear Sky

This piece was written in response to Naviarhaiku 229 – finally a clear sky.

  finally a clear sky
  yet no moon…
  summer mountain

This is a haiku by one of the greatest haiku poets, Kobayashi Issa, who was extremely prolific. He is better known as simply Issa, a pen name meaning Cup-of-tea.

After five days of rain, two of sun, then back to rain, this haiku worked itself nicely into my office, as I wished for a hastening of the sun’s inevitable return.

Finally, A Clear Sky is written for two Flutes, two Clarinets, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Violin, Viola, Cello and String Bass.

Finally, A Clear Sky
Finally, A Clear Sky – Score

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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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