Saturday, October 30, 2010

Azure (Thexhrsign) - A piece I wrote in Junior High!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Youtube Videos and Musical Self-Promotion

 Life has been getting pretty stressful lately. What free time I thought I had found when I started blogging again was quickly gobbled up by hungry, newly hatched massive homework assignments and projects, so it's a miracle I found time for this post. Perhaps I should be getting back to my school work... Nah, I'll write a post first. When I do have time in my schedule, I find myself spending more and more of it at The Piano World Forums, an impressive set of forums devoted to music, primarily pianos and keyboards. It gets decent traffic and has brought more attention to my blog and Youtube page! I've also been able to get a lot of questions regarding music answered there.

I have some more videos up on my Youtube Channel, again. While I was home over fall break from college, I managed to record "Thexhrsign" as well as a 14 minute long rough improvisation on Bryan Folstad's piano. Both of these recording are now public, so head over to my Youtube Channel to check them out! The improvisation is an important video because this is often the process I use to find new material for my composing, so if you only have the feedback capacity for one comment, write it about that video! Also, after finalizing the videos, I realized there is some accidental product placement going on; the almost overly conspicuous rubik's cubes, as well as the Capri Sun I was drinking before making the "Noodling" recording. :) I'll be putting up some recordings of The Maple Leaf Rag and Clair de Lune next, followed by the orchestra's performance of "Shards!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Hopefully, this will be a brief post; I just want to follow up my last full text post with an update, since my musical projects are moving forward so quickly! First, my two latest videos are up on Youtube, one of which can be found in my previous post. "Reflection" and "Only Dreaming" are chamber pieces that I have composed during my time at Concordia College so far, and both of these videos feature enhanced MIDI recordings with slide shows. I created the slide show videos using Windows Live Movie Maker, a free program I recently downloaded to help speed up the Youtubing process, since the standard Movie Maker sucks so much. In less than a week, my next video should be ready for uploading as well. This will be "Azure - Thexhrsign," an old piano composition.

The Symphonia Orchestra is doing fairly well with my piece, "Shards," although there have been some issues with rhythm and harmonic changes. Since I made use of several very strange chord progressions and rhythmic ideas throughout this composition, it's fairly easy to predict where problems will arise, but it's astounding just how much work I have to do to modify each and every part to accommodate common complaints! The string sections especially are struggling, although they are showing clear improvement. Everybody is working so hard at making this happen; I really can't complain! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a November 23rd performance!

 The last thing I really wanted to mention was that since I am officially done with my first commission, I'm actively searching out a new commission to work on. If you or anybody you know needs fresh, original music written for any occasion, hire me! Considering that I'm pretty desperate for exposure right now, I'll be working for pretty cheap prices, too. Thanks for reading!

Reflection - One of the New Videos!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Current and Near-Future Projects

I've been working on quite a few things lately. Juggling schoolwork, musical practice, composing, work, personal relationships, networking, and personal care-taking is difficult, as you very well may understand! I just thought I should post something about my current and upcoming musical projects, and mention what will appear on my various networking sites.

First, I have four new Youtube videos planned for the coming two months. Two of these are going to be simple slideshows with computerized recordings of "Reflection" and "Only Dreaming," chamber compositions I've written in the last year. Out of the many non-piano pieces I have created, these two are the only ones that really sound half-decent with Finale's playback engine! The third video will be a live recording of "Azure (Thexhrsign)," a rather simple piano solo I wrote in junior high. This piece is significant to me because it won me my first scholarship to the Junior Composers' Institute through a composition contest. And, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, the final video in this set will be "Shards," my full orchestral piece. I should add that there is a possibility that this won't be performed until March, depending on how the next few rehearsals go.

I'd also like to mention the composition projects I'm working on here at Concordia. This semester, I have a smaller project and a larger project. The former is a collection of short duets for bassoon and soprano sax utilizing contrasting moods and methods of two-part voice leading; this assignment was meant to help me work on my weak points as a composer, namely melody/countermelody without texture. With nothing but the two monophonic instruments playing, I cannot rely on texture and rhythms to sustain any gaps in melodic strength as I usually do, and this is a big challenge for me!

The latter is my larger project, an extended piece for Percussion Ensemble. Since I perform in a percussion ensemble here at Concordia, I have no trouble hearing the sounds I am attempting to create. However, such a strange an principally similar group of instruments poses many challenges for a composer. In contrast with my other project, this work will have to rely a lot on carefully constructed rhythm and texture, and finding ways to vary the sound is not easy with nothing but percussion instruments. Still, the challenge is wonderful, and the 2 minutes or so of music I have written so far sounds really good; it's bizarre with a lot of emotional contrast. My only worry now is if the parts I've written will prove too difficult for some of the members of the ensemble!

I've been updating my social networking sites a lot lately, so please, check some of them out! They can be found in a list at the top of the right hand column of my blog. Thanks for reading! Let me know if there's any questions I can answer or comments I should hear.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Memories, my newest composition for solo piano!

At last! A new video and a new post!

Hello everybody! I've been absolutely swamped with homework and events through college, but I at last have some real free time! Since it's been a couple months since my last blog post, I suppose I should fill in what's been going on. First and foremost, I finished my commission for the Hutchinson School District! Since this was my first real commission, I cannot express how exited I am to have completed it. I received my paycheck for it, but the money really isn't the real gain here; it's the finished composition and the knowledge that it will be heard by hundreds of people over the next couple years. The school district loved the final product! The piece I composed was a piano solo in three movements entitled "Memories." I will embed it into my next blog post shortly, but for now, here is the link: MEMORIES

I would advise listening to it with good speakers or headphones and in Hi-Def quality, since there seem to be some strange digital disturbances here and there that only show up on crappy speakers and/or in low quality, for whatever reason. It's really quite strange. But anyway, the recordings turned out great overall! My composition professor here at Concordia College, Dr. Steven Makela, helped me record the piece on an extremely nice Steinway Grand. I really cannot express in words how happy I am to have completed this project; "Memories" has taken on an extremely special role for me, since it is connected to the city of Hutchinson, Minnesota, an extremely special place for me. The piece is meant to evoke various images of youth and growing up, and I'm sure the memories brought out will be different from listener to listener!

Movement 1 is entitled "Childhood" and was written last summer (2009). It is by far the simplest of the three parts musically speaking; the harmony is relatively basic and predictable, the structure is very much straight forward and comfortable, and for the most part it is driven by an elegant bass melody. For me, it brings up memories of my earlier youth, a (relatively) innocent time that I only wish I could go back to. Movement 2, "Maturity," is about the memories of growing out of this stage into adolescence and the accompanying feelings. This part shifts between modes and styles, containing sections of smooth complacency and sections of unrest. The form is much more sporadic than the first movement, and the harmonies are much more developed. This section was written during the 2009-2010 school year. Lastly, Movement 3 is named "Departure" and was written this past summer (2010) to conclude the project. It is the most experimental and also the longest of the three sections, containing mixed meter, fluctuating key signatures and a well-developed structure. It is also much more peaceful overall than the first two movements, despite many dark undertones. For me, it evokes the feelings of leaving home for the first time and the reality of slowly growing up. I put a lot of effort into making subtle musical connections between the three movements; various major themes from each section will show up here and there in the other sections, integrated into the framework.

Other than this, not much has happened in my life as a musician. I've started my Sophomore year at Concordia College in Moorhead, and as always, the composing is my favorite part of any week. It's what helps me get through the stress of writing papers and studying for tests; it's like a video game for me, which is such a privilege. This coming weekend, I am drumming for a wedding reception in a small jazz band with friends of mine here at college. Since jazz is far from being a strength or passion of mine, this will be a welcome challenge! Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to know, and thank you so much for reading! I really need to keep posting more often! XD