Sunday, December 14, 2014

Video of the Week: Christmas Card

Here's another one of my Christmas creations on YouTube ... from six years ago.  I arranged and performed the piano music.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Video of the Week: My Son's Christmas Solo

This week, I'll feature my son, who just gave his first solo performance at his high school.  This is the third movement of "Christmas Concerto" by Robert W. Smith.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Video of the Week: We Three Kings

This upcoming month, I'll be presenting Christmas-themed videos.

This week, I'll show off my first attempt at dubbing my own voice several times.  It turned out okay.  I hope you enjoy this arrangement.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Video of the Week: Precious Little One - Merritt

This week, I'd like to feature a composition by one of my friends, Mark Daniel Merritt, a rising conductor and composer.  We sang this composition, "Precious Little One" three years ago in Mount Airy, NC.

I find this melody to be hauntingly beautiful, and I hope you will enjoy it also.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Video of the Week: Interstellar Main Theme

After an exam-induced break from blogging, I'm back!

I'll start up the videos of the week with some haunting music from the new Nolan movie, Interstellar.  This is the main theme, which reminds me of something out of Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi.

The movie has great music by the composer Hans Zimmer.  I highly recommend seeing the movie to see the sights and listen to the music.  Though, prepare for the music to be louder than the dialogue in several places.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Video of the Week: Elijah Rock

Back in 2011, I joined up with a Mount Airy musical group, Voce.  That was a fun year.

As you may know, Mount Airy was the stomping grounds of Andy Griffith, and is the inspiration for the fictional city of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith show.  So, in this Christmas concert, we had a Barney impersonator, and even the actress, Betty Lynn who played Thelma Lou, was secretly in attendance.

The first song in this video is "Andy's Mayberry Christmas Card List" by Doug Reeves.

Then, I come in around the 5:00 mark.  I sing backup to award-winning Melva Houston in her rendition of "Elijah Rock."  It was a night to remember!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Video of the Week: Banquet Fugue by Rutter

This week (yeah I'm a little late on this one), I relive my high-school days.  I have many fond memories of singing fun songs, crazy songs, silly songs, etc.  One of my favorites was when we performed the entire "Reluctant Dragon" by John Rutter.

In particular was the "Banquet Fugue."

Here's a performance (not mine, but still good) ...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Video of the Week: Belshazzar's Feast

I sang with the Charlotte Oratorio Singers around 2001-2003.  By far, my favorite performance was that of Walton's "Belshazzar's Feast."  This 40-minute symphonic work tells the stories of the Jews being taken away captive by Belshazzar, king of Babylon.  This king made them into slaves, desecrated their holy artifacts, and had a large feast at their expense.  Then after the king sees the writing on the wall and is SLAIN, the Jews celebrate.

The music is unlike anything I had sung before -- powerful chords, exciting rhythms, and wonderful text painting.  Note around time 16:00 below how you can almost hear the different gods being praised: gold, silver, iron, wood, etc.

Amazing music.

Unfortunately, I can't find a recording of the Charlotte Symphony performance.  Here's a BBC recording with much pomp and drama, and a baritone with a vibrato wider than my garage.  There are better recordings on YouTube, but I think this video is the best available that captures the drama of the music.  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Video of the Week: Where'er You Walk

Those of you reading my Word of Mel blog know that I'm about to take a hiatus till November while studying for an actuarial exam.  However, I will continue my videos of the week.  I'll concentrate on vocal performances over these next couple of months.

This is a more recent performance of me singing Handel's "Where'er You Walk."  I used to sing this all the time in high school, though I never did score a Superior (1) in any juries.  I've used this (successfully) in a couple of auditions for singing groups.  My friends and I used to change some of the lyrics with humorous results.

So, as you can imagine, this classical piece--that most any vocal student performs at least once in their life--brings me many memories.

The unseen pianist in this performance is M. A. Bills.  Enjoy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Video of the Week: "God Be With You" Medley

Today, my daughter performed this piece for church, just prior to scooting off to college.  She wrote the violin line, and I added the piano part.

This is a medley of "Lead Kindly Light", "I Know That My Reedemer Lives", and "God Be With You."

Note to my Mormon peeps: this is a "practice" recording, and not the actual performance.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Video of the Week: The Hours (Philip Glass)

This week, while I'm still on a minimalist kick, here's some depressing music from the depressing movie The Hours.

It's said that writers/composers are friends with depression.  And we're going to bring the whole world down with us.  Bwe-ha-ha-ha!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Video of the Week: Prelude (2009)

While I'm on this minimalist kick, here's a more recent piece I wrote.  Right now it's called "Prelude" but I may call it something else later.  It's meant to be part of a series called "Waves of Sand."  It starts with a simple melody, and I add a little more as it progresses.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Video of the Week: Mazel Tov

Last night I watched a local performance of Fiddler on the Roof, so this week I'll present a clip from the movie--one of my favorite songs from the musical.

I think it's called "Mazel Tov" or "Tevye's Dream."  In the musical, Tevye is trying to convince his wife that their daughter should marry the poor tailor instead of the rich butcher.  But how to do this without incurring his wife's wrath?  He comes up with this ingenious plan to have a "vision" in his dreams ...

Oh, and I realized from the performance last night that the movie uses a condensed form of the song.  It's still pretty funny.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Video of the Week: Broken Glass Part 2

Here are the final two pieces from my collection "Broken Glass."

#3) Scherzo (1984) - Featuring 2 notes against 3.  This one might be my favorite, though it's another one of those where my mom used to say, "That one makes me nervous."  Hee hee hee.

#4) Finale (1985) @2:26 - Featuring 3 notes against 4.  (Not my best performance, evidently, but the only one I have so far recorded.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Video of the Week: Broken Glass Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I introduced one of my favorite living composers, Philip Glass.  You'd never guess it, but a year or two before I became introduced to him myself, I had written a few pieces that sounded similar to his.  What an interesting coincidence.

There are four pieces in this collection.  Here are the first two pieces.  Next week I'll present the other two.

#1) Prelude (1984) - Featuring 3 notes vs. 2.  Compare this piece with Philip Glass's Opening from his Glassworks.

#2) Minuet (1985) @3:00 - Featuring 4 notes vs. 6.

New Page for My Music

I've just added a new feature to my blog: a "My Music" tab.  This new page will (eventually) list all the music I've composed.  So far, I've added all the music I've showcased on this blog, and I'll add more later as I have time.

Here's a link to the new page (or you can click on "My Music" at the top of the page).


Friday, July 4, 2014

Video of the Week: Battle Hymn of the Republic

Happy 4th of July!  This week, I'll feature this performance of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  You'll most likely recognize that this is the famous Wilhousky arrangement (that the Mormon Tabernacle likes to sing), except Sister Wheeling (my partner in crime) and I adapted this for the organ.

We played this for a sacrament meeting just before Veteran's Day 2012.  (And don't worry ... this recording was made the following Wednesday night, and not during the actual sacrament meeting.)

Enjoy this patriotic hymn.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Video of the Week: Glassworks Opening

This week, I'll introduce another of my favorite living composers, Philip Glass.  He's another minimalist who has influences from rock music and eastern music.  I'll start with something simple--this relaxing piano piece from Glassworks.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Video of the Week: Opus 2

This week, I'll continue by showcasing my own Opus 2.  (Last week I showed Opus 1.)

I wrote all five pieces in 1984 during my 8th and 9th grade years.  I grouped these five pieces together because they sounded to me more "classical" than my Opus 1 pieces.  And again, they show the beginnings of my exploring music.

More about the pieces...

No. 1: Composition -- This one was inspired by Bach.  You might recognize the downward octaves motif in the left hand as Bach uses in several pieces like his Air in G.  I considered this to be my first "classical" piece, and I was proud.  :)

No. 2: Scherzo (starting at 1:35) -- Another Bach-like composition, but faster and a little on the annoying side.  I remember my mother telling me to play something else every time I played it.  Hee hee hee!

No. 3: Dingy (starting at 3:10) -- This one is about my cat Dingy who died.  I was sad, and my mother said, "Well, write a song about it."  So I did.  Now my kitty is immortal!

No. 4: Composition for Organ (starting at 5:40) -- Yeah, I know I'm playing it on the piano.  It all happened one day when we went visiting one of my mother's friends (or was it my grandma's friend?).  She had one of those pedal-pumping organs, so I messed around as I pumped.  As I messed around, I put this together, recorded it, and transcribed it.

No. 5: Rosie (starting at 6:49) -- I had a crush on this girl, and she knew it.  I gave her the nickname "Rosie."  Even though she discouraged the whole thing, I wrote her a song.  Sounds like it belongs in a movie or something.  :)

Enjoy listening!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Video of the Week: Opus 1

I started writing down and saving my music in 1984--my sub-freshman year (8th grade) in high school.  This video features five of these pieces.  Looking back with my current musical knowledge, I see that these are really simple pieces.  Only the first shows real signs of longevity, but all five show the beginnings of my musical exploration.  Enjoy!

A little more about the pieces...

op. 1 no. 1: My Special Girl -- I wrote this piece on a Commodore Vic20.  First I had to write a program that turned the computer program into a type of piano, which allowed me to play three notes at the same time.  But it only played white notes, and each of the three tones came from different octaves.  At the same time, I had this crush on this girl in band, but knew it wasn't going to work out.  Imagining the hypothetical "special" girl I would one day meet, I wrote this song.  I later adapted it for piano.

It has a haunting tune, which I think would make a great song.  The lyrics just don't exist, yet.

op. 1 no. 2: Stars (starting at 3:08) -- This one was "commissioned" as mood music at a church dance.  The theme was "Starlight and Carnations."

op. 1 no. 3: Minute of Stars (starting at 4:35) -- This one was for some presentation at an Episcopalian summer camp named Camp Mikell.  They wanted a Minute of Stars as some characters walked to the stage.

op. 1 no. 4: Heartbeats (starting at 5:44) -- I think I wrote this as a sequel to "Minute of Stars" ... just a simple exploration of chord progressions that follows nicely after the former.

op. 1 no. 5: Testimony (starting at 7:00) -- The LDS ward music director asked me to share my testimony through music.  I wrote this ... something that was appreciated at the time, but wouldn't fly today in today's LDS sacrament meetings, where now only hymn arrangements and other LDS-approved music is allowed.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Video of the Week: Sun's Gone Dim

This week, I'll introduce this haunting tune: "Sun's Gone Dim" by Johann Johannsson.  This is a little popular mainstream electronica that'll get into your head if you let it.  It's similar to Barber's Adagio for Strings, which is used in many war movies.  Figuring you've already heard Barber's piece, I'll give you Johannsson instead.  I predict it will also appear in a couple of war movies before it becomes long forgotten.

Enjoy as you remember D-Day.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Video of the Week: Brass Quintet

This week we'll venture into the 20th century with clashing sounds and all those good things you don't hear on the radio very often.

In this piece, I took my future wife's name K-I-M-B-E-R-L-Y B-O-W-E-S and assigned notes to each letter.  It's easy to pick out the KIMBERLY theme at the very beginning (top voice) and several times throughout the three movements.  There's also a BOWES chord, and a WINDHAM theme at the end of the first movement.  In that way, I sneaked in my last name so as to "propose" to her before I actually did propose to her.

Hee hee hee.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

New LDS Music Resource: Facebook Page

As an LDS* musician, I'm excited about the new church initiative: the LDS Music Team Facebook Page.

(* LDS refers to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.)

This new page is meant to be a community for LDS musicians to share music ideas, train each other, and to help meet the musical needs of each ward/branch.

I invite my fellow LDS musicians to check out the Facebook page and start participating.  To get all the updates (posts by "The LDS Music Team - USA"), make sure to Like the page at the very top.

To see the community posts you must go to the page itself and click on "Recent Posts by Others" off to the right side of the Timeline near the top:

Click on "See All" and it will show all the community posts.

Enjoy, tell your friends, and let's make something out of this.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Video of the Week: John Adams--Phrygian Gates

This week I'll post somebody else's music.  John Adams is one of my favorite living composers.  He's considered to be a minimalist composer, of which I find to be one of the most energetic.

This is one of his piano pieces.  It's a long one, but this performance (and visuals) by Ian Houghton is a good one, and I hope it will help introduce you to a new kind of music.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Video of the Week: Little Sonatina #3

This week, I'll finish out the trio of Little Sonatinas.  I completed this when I was around 21, and overall I think it's the best of the three sonatinas.

The second movement is something I wrote without the piano while on my mission in Korea.  A friend asked me to compose something for his memory book, so I did.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Half Rests vs. Whole Rests

In teaching my daughter how to play the piano, the topic of the week was to introduce the half rest.  But how do you teach the difference between a half rest (which lasts two beats) and a whole rest (which usually lasts four)?  If you look at this graphic, they look very similar:

The only difference is that one rest is on top of a line, and the other is below a line.  But which is which?

Easy--I came up with this mnemonic:

"If you don't whole-d on, you'll half to rest."

See?  The whole rest is "holding" on the the line above it, and half rests just "have" to rest on the line below it.

There you have it.  Now you know the difference and you can teach others.

Video of the Week: Little Sonatina #2

This week I'll continue with another Little Sonatina.  I was roughly 21 when I finished these three short movements.  Enjoy!

(Note: Youtube appears to be having troubles the last couple of days with their buttons and thumbnails not loading -- on Macs?  I had to use my ingenuity and html skills to put together the right code to embed this video.  I'm smarter than Google/Youtube!)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Video of the Week: Little Sonatina #1

Here is my first "music video of the week."  It's simple.  It's short.

I composed this in high school.  The girls loved it.  Yeah, music!

Tune in every week for more videos.

Introducing the Music of Mel

Hello world ... again.

I'm happy to introduce my new blog.  This one is all about music.  My goal is to promote my own music and talk about music in general.

I hope you enjoy.