As you all may or may not know, I am trying to get funding to start an elementary school band in my school.  We’ve had an overwhelming amount of support.  You can see the latest projects.  The experience inspired me to write a composition for the occasion, and give my students an opportunity to really interpret music, and not just listen to a recording and mimic it.

The working title is An Epic Journey (I’m so bad at titles).  The first section of the piece is an uptempo, two-beat number featuring the low brass later in the piece.  The first melody is featured in the flutes, French Horn, Oboe, and the glockenspiel.

Here is the main theme for measures 1-10.  Take notice that the phrasing in the melody is asymmetrical (four measure antecedent, six measure consequent).  In a previous version, the melody was harmonized with a drop 2 voicing, and ends with a drop 2 and 4 voicing.  As you can see, I’ve changed that to make it a little thinner in harmony, and texture.  As noted before, the melody is in the flutes, oboes, and French horn.

The accompaniment is in the saxophones, playing a staccato-eighth note figure, and spread out in mostly sixths.  This accompaniment keeps the piece moving forward.  The snare drum and bass drum compliments this figure.  The two-beat feel is in the low brass, bassoon, and bass clarinet.  I tried to vary the bottom-end by mixing in thick and thin textures.

An Epic Journey - condensed score, highlighting the melody in blue.

An Epic Journey, mm. 1-10 , highlighting the melody in blue. (Condensed Score)

Stay tuned for another analysis of a different section.

Update!

I’ve been in retro-music mode.  Today, I’ve listened to complete albums by Bouncing Souls, Bad Religion, Unwritten Law, Lagwagon, and 88 Fingers Louie, and T.S.O.L.  Rockin’ out hard – pretty rad.

I went Salant Studio to cut some drum tracks, but I’m not going to tell you what they are for yet.  I’ll be going back in a few weeks to complete my project, and also co-producing a friend’s  new material.

So, my pal Josh Salant, who owns the studio, has a nice set up, and I’m taking his idea.  I’ve rearranged my room to accommodate my Pro Tools rig again.  I’ve purchased monitor stands for my studio monitors and I’m looking into getting a swivel, wall mount for my TV/Computer monitor.  The computer monitor will float above my Macbook Pro monitor.  It’ll look sick.

Ralph Vaughan Williams – Ten Blake Songs

***This post was originally published in March***

I’ve never been a super fan of Ralph Vaughan Williams before.  I’ve certainly studied a few of his pieces in college, but I’ve never encountered a piece of his that really encapsulated me, until I heard Ten Blake Songs for voice and oboe.  Vaughan Williams had brilliantly set these poems from Willam Blake’s Songs of Innocence in 1958, the year of his death.  I’m definitely a sucker for pieces with two-part texture.  The oboe accompaniment makes use of repeating rhythmic and melodic figures (but not so much ostinati).

Example – I. Infant Joy from Ten Blake Songs  mm. 1-4:

Two-Songs-By-Robert-Frost1

Take for example, the repeated material used in the first movement, Infant Joy.  I have strong personal feelings for the modal figure that occurs on the eighth note after the third beat in the second measure.  It happens in measures two, six, and eleven, also in variations in measures fourteen, and twenty-one.  These occur mostly on held notes, at the end of a poetic phrase.  The quarter note triplet figures happen three times in the piece: once in the beginning (mm. 1, and 3) separated by the modal figure, once in the middle of the song (mm. 12-13), to support the separating of the stanzas, and at the end (mm. 20, and 24) to close out the movement.  These salient features give the thin, two-part, polyphonic texture some solidarity.

Another movement that I really enjoy is the third movement The Piper.  In this piece, the oboe imitates a piper engages in a call and response with the singer.  The exuberance of this piece is mirrored in how the meter and mode changes throughout the piece, rhythmical and scalar passages, as well as dynamic changes, support the interplay between the two instruments.

This song cycle is highly recommended for those who love the complexity of simplicity.  Less is more.