Monday, October 17, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 41 - Relay Race

Hello hello again,

Week 41!
(I don't know why I'm always so amazed at what week it is over and over. I guess I've just never measured a year of life in weeks before. I highly suggest trying it sometime).

This week, we have another Composer Quest Olympics Event!

Relay Race

Due October 17th
Charlie will randomly assign you to a team of 4-5 composers, and you’ll collaborate on a composition by passing it from one person to the next. You decide as a team who will go first, and each person will contribute 20 – 30 seconds of music until you have a roughly 2-minute collage composition. You can also decide as a team if you want to notate it and have someone record it as a whole, or you can send recorded chunks to each other.


I had the pleasure of collaborating with 3 other composers from around the US. Keevin Droster is from Colorado, Diana Salier and Richard An are based in California, and I'm in Minnesota.

We started out by hearing each others' music and talking about a good tempo and general key center. We then decided what order to go in, and set up a timeline to get this thing completed by the deadline (today).

It's been really fun seeing this piece of music grow over the past 6 weeks. I'm very happy with the way it turned out. To me it is like a collage artistic visions with a subtle thread of cohesion throughout.

Hope you enjoy it!

First Leg: Keevin Droster
Second Leg: Diana Salier
Third Leg: Richard An
Fourth Leg: Bryan Schumann

See you next week!


Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 40 - Hurdles

Holy Guacamole! Week 40!!!

I cannot believe how quickly this year is flying by. This week, I have another Composer Quest Olympics piece to share. This is Event 4.


Due October 7th (I turned it in on time, just waited until today to blog about it).

Charlie will provide a lead sheet for you to compose over. Each measure will have one chord (the hurdle), and you decide how to compose around it, in any style. Provide a recording to share with the group.

They later changed the rules to allow us to choose our own length of each chord, use any inversions of each chord, and add any 7th or sus notes. The chord progression is:

Bb, F, G min, Eb,
Bb, F, Gb, Db,
C, F min, F, Bb min,
Bb min/Ab, Gb, Db, Gb,
Db, C, F, Bb,
F, G min, Eb, Bb,
F, Gb, Ab, Bb.

I had a lot of fun with this. I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary from what I typically write. I used a some strong synth tones which I typically don't do all that much. I decided to not do too much of a literal representation of the hurdles sport for this piece as well (compared to some of the other events I've done).

Hope you enjoy this little ditty!

See you next week,

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 39 - Inside the Music Box

It's time to play the random inspiration game. Was looking for an intriguing title to inspire a piano improv, and landed on "Inside the Music Box." Not much more to say about this one. Hope you enjoy this whimsical, angular little thing.

Oh hey, guess what else, this marks the completion of the 3rd quarter of the year. Only 13 weeks left! Welcome to fall! Next up I have a few more Composer Quest Olympics as well as more music based on Alison Albrecht's art. We're going to make an album with 8 pieces based on the seasons and the elements. The visual art is done. Time to make the music!

Until next week,


Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 38 - Weightlifting for Solo Tuba

Week 38 is here and it's time for Event 3 of the Composer Quest Olympics!


Due September 27th
Write a 30-second or less tuba solo, which will be recorded by friend of the podcast Eric Ebeling.

I decided to go for a bit of a character piece on this one. Can you hear it?

This recording here is my audio rendition using samples (EWQLSO Close Mics to be exact). I can't wait to hear Eric's performance of this :)

See you next week :-D


Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 37 - Table Tennis for Two Trumpets

Welcome to Week 37!

Time for more 2016 Composer Quest Olympics music! Event 2:

Table Tennis

Due September 17th

You’ll be randomly paired with another composer, and you’ll collaborate on a short composition in any style, for any instrumentation. The only requirement is that you and your partner must alternate contributing notes/beats one at a time, ping pong-style. You can try sending a notation file back and forth, or send recordings, or just email note names and lengths. When you’re done, provide a recording to share with the group.


So as fate would have it, my original partner dropped out just days before the composition was due. So, with a last minute addition to the Olympics, they allowed me and Kate to work together on this one. What else would two trumpet players do?

Table Tennis for Two Trumpets. 100% improvised.
Check it out (listen in headphones or earbuds or on a stereo system):

In case you were wondering, I'm on the left and Kate is on the right. This was fun :-D

See you next week!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 36 - Angel

Hello again!

It has been one heck of a week. First of all, I have been working my butt off on the new studio space. I'm not sure I've mentioned it here before, but we are adding solar panels to our home which is also our studio space. SO, by this time next month, finger's crossed, the new studio space will be done and I'll be making music off the sun!

Hey, I should post a picture of the progress...It isn't pretty at the moment...

So this first one was from last week. I was cleaning out the suspended ceiling and pulling it away from the wall so we can frame in on top of the block.

And the second one is a picture after adding the insulation board. This should help keep it warm in the winter and help reduce sound coming in from outside as well.

Anyway, I've been burning the candle at both ends and actually ended up sick for the past few days here. Finally starting to feel better today. So, I've been ending my days for the past week by watching some good old comfort TV. We're re-watching the Angel series. I forgot how good these were. For some reason this music reminded me of how dark and brooding Angel can be. Hence, the title.

For next week, I'll be working on more Composer Quest Olympics. This next event is ping pong. I'll be collaborating with another composer going back and forth each note. This will be interesting!

Until then,


Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 35 - National Anthem

Guess what!?

I'm participating in the official Composer Quest / American Composer Forum Composer Olympics.

Compositions will be ranked, and they'll determine bronze, silver, and gold medalists for each event. The rankings will be based on votes from other participants.

The first event:

National Anthems

Due September 7th
Make a creative arrangement of one of your favorite national anthems for any instrumentation (acoustic or electronic), and record it to share with the group.

Okay, so given a certain happening to do with the USA national anthem recently, this post might be a little hard to make without getting into it. So I'm just going to dive in. There are a lot of really messed up things going on in our country in terms of our justice system (cops not being tried for murdering civilians...for example).

In my mind, not standing during the national anthem is a perfect way to bring awareness to the issues at hand. In no way is this meant as an act of disrespect to those who have fought to make the rest of us safer. But, what good is being safe from foreign threat if you are not even safe from those who we are all paying to keep the peace in our own communities? If you are outraged that somebody is silently protesting the problem, and not outraged at the problem itself, then that right there is part of the problem.

I understand the lyrics of the USA Nation Anthem (verses 2-4) actually reference slavery. My understanding is that it is referencing the US battle with the British in Canada on Sept 14, 1814. The USA was trying to take a part of Canada, but through the recruitment of American slaves, the British were actually able to push back and nearly take DC. So why does this matter? Well, Francis Scott Key is specifically talking about beating the British and slave army. This is all sorts of messed up.

Sometimes the origins of a thing can be masked, especially when a thing is turned into a symbol that represents something else (freedom, bravery, hope, liberty, justice, happiness), and the meaning and value of that thing can completely change to an entire population over time. When people hear the USA National Anthem, I don't believe they are specifically thinking about all of the terrible things that happened in this country to make it what it is today and hoping for more terrible things and a return to the way things were in the past. I believe most people hear it and think about their families and their friends and hope for good things in the future. I believe it is meant to be inspiring to us all, despite its origins.

Any way you slice it...stand, sing, put your hand over your heart, bow your head, take off your cap...or don't. That is the freedom that the USA National Anthem is all about. We should all be free to do what we please so long as it doesn't interfere with the freedom and happiness of others.

Hopefully I didn't ruffle too many feathers with that little mind dump.

Without further ado, here is my rendition of our National Anthem.

Until next week,