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.