Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 43 | Piano Improv

Hello hello,

Welcome to week 43 of 2016. We have less than 10 weeks left in the year! How about that!? I feel like it has been a while since I've done a piano improv video, and looking back, it has been a little over two!

For this one, I was toying with a key I haven't really worked with much before. Generally if I'm using all the black keys, my hands tend to go for C and F as the white keys, but today I purposely pushed myself to use B and E as the white keys. What a different mood. I like it.

I set a minor and a major theme back and forth for this one. I'm really starting to find that music works best for me when I don't try to go too many places. When it comes down to it, this is really just two relative key centers alternating back and forth a couple times. But it really works and I'd probably be okay hearing back and forth several more times if the range and arrangement where to change (maybe even if not). I'll have to keep that in mind.

Hope you enjoy this little improvisation.

Thanks for listening and see you next week!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 42 | Gymnastics - Composer Quest Olympics - Event 6 - Composer Choice

Welcome to Event 6 of the 2016 Composer Quest Olympics!

Composer’s Choice

Due October 27th
Maybe you can’t compete in a REAL Olympic event, but you an at least compose something in honor of one. You’ll pick an event and decide what style or form captures its essence. For example, if you picked javelin throw, you might compose a long continuous arc in your melody. Or maybe you want to capture the improvisation of a boxing match with competing jazz solos. Or maybe you just want to write a song about a bobsled team. Provide a recording to share with the group, plus a short written description of the event you chose and how you represented it in your composition.


I (like many others) was highly impressed with Simone Biles's floor routine in the 2016 Olympic Games. So, I decided to use that routine as inspiration for a piece of music for piano. I put the sound of the video on mute, and composed a character piece that is cued to the routine itself. This was a lot of fun to write and is very enjoyable to watch (IMHO).

I'm so grateful to have been a part of this Composer Quest. It has been a long road and a lot of work, but well worth the effort. I've gotten to know a bunch of other composers and their work, and have written a lot of music that I would not have otherwise written. Hat's off to Charlie McCarron for putting this whole thing together.

I hope you enjoy this little video :)

The idea is that these are perfectly synced in time. I had a video up on YouTube that did the work for you, but got hit by NBC even though I didn't monetize it...@$$ holes...

Anyway, if you mute the sound on their video and then hit play on mine and hit play on theirs immediately after, you can get it pretty close. Good luck ;)

Simone Biles Gold Medal Floor Routine Video

Thanks for watching!

See you next week :)

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Thing A Week - 2016 - Week 41 | Relay Race - Composer Quest Olympics - Event 5 - Gold Medalist

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 for Weird Ensemble - Composer Quest Olympics - Event 4

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 for Solo Piano

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,