The Last Third of 30 Days!

Here it is, the third and final 10-day compilation playlist, with titles and links to the original posts. It generally took me a day or so to assign a title to each piece, which is why the titles didn’t appear at the same time as the sound files. “Maineville Shuffle” is named for the little town in Ohio where McDoc’s sis and family live, since that’s where I composed it. (Their basement makes a great music studio! πŸ˜‰ )

Playlist for days 21-30:

[sonific 743873c1aa14b50ff806609331ee731cddab2a1e]

Links and Titles:

To hear a playlist for days 11-20, go here.
To hear a playlist for days 1-10, go here.

Thanks for listening!

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The 30 Days Project: Day 30

I can’t believe it’s over! πŸ˜₯

It’s Day 30! Wow! It’s hard to believe this is the last day of the project! Of course, there’s no law saying that I have to stop, and part of me would love to keep doing this every day for the rest of my life, but I’m going to stick to the parameters of the project and stop here for now. Besides, there are plenty of things to do next… I want to extend some of the pieces from the project, clean up the notation files so they look nice… because next in the works, I hope, will be The 30 Days Project: Live! and The 30 Days Project: The CD! (Could 30 Days: The Movie be far behind? πŸ˜‰ )

…And then, of course, I have my Theremin Concerto to write!

I couldn’t decide whether to go out with a bang today or have a nice peaceful close, so I did a bit of both. I used a hymn tune I’ve been wanting to fit in, “How Great Thou Art,” which is another one of those tunes that I fondly associate with VirgoMom. (cheeseful MIDI here!) And I threw in at least 3 or 4 sappy cadences, just to show how bittersweet this day is for me! πŸ˜‰ This piece is for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me during this project, especially McDoc, and everyone who listened and left comments and emails! This has been one of the most incredible, amazing, challenging and rewarding experiences of my life so far.

In the past 30 days, I wrote 50 MINUTES OF MUSIC!!!

And there’s more where that came from! πŸ˜€

Click play to listen:

Thanks for listening!

The 30 Days Project: Day 29

Hmm… What haven’t I written for yet?

I’m not trying to make this thing complicated, but the cool thing about being a composer is that the orchestra is your toybox. Actually, the whole world of live and recorded sound is your toybox. Pretty dang cool!

I’ve been thinking about wind instruments lately. I hadn’t yet written for bassoon or oboe, and I like them both very much, so I thought I’d better get them in (I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of the project! 😦 ). In fact I chose woodwind quintet, just because it’s kind of quirky and doesn’t get much written for it these days, as far as I know. It can be difficult to think about what to write for it, since the instruments are pretty different from each other and it can be hard to get them to blend and balance.

McDoc and I are visiting my sister-in-law and her husband this weekend, and my brother-in-law Chris is a guitarist and singer who always shows me lots of cool jazz music when we visit, so I’ve got jazz on the brain. Goofy jazz, of course — or it wouldn’t be me! πŸ™‚

Click play to listen:

Thanks for listening!

The 30 Days Project: Day 28

Cicadas in Love!

Phew! I’m a little late, but that’s what happens when you: get up late, pack, go on a 4 1/2 hour road trip, go out to dinner for your birthday, drink two margaritas, and then sit down to compose. πŸ˜‰

And this was the first day that I actually had done a little bit of advance preparation. During the summer, McDoc and I became interested in the sounds of cicadas that we could hear in our neighborhood, and we did a bit of online research and found a site that had several sound files of different species of cicadas. I thought the sounds had wonderful musical potential, so I wrote to the scientists to ask permission to use them. They very kindly said yes.

I hope they don’t regret it after hearing the piece.

I heard a particular musical reference in one of the cicada sounds, and I went with it. It’s very silly, I know, but I couldn’t resist…

It is my birthday, after all… you can blame the margaritas! πŸ™‚

Special thanks to John Cooley and David Marshall of the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, and Mark O’Brien of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, for granting me permission to use their cicada sound files.

Click play to listen:

Thanks for listening!

The 30 Days Project: Day 27

I was in a slightly melancholy mood today. I’m not sure why… maybe it’s because I saw this movie last night. Or maybe it’s just because of all the laundry that needs to get done before McDoc and I leave tomorrow to spend a long weekend with his sister and her family! πŸ˜‰

Whatever the cause, I feel better now that I’ve written this piece. It was windy and rainy today — at one point I had to run from the car to the door of our building while it was pouring — it’s amazing how wet you can get in 3 seconds! In today’s piece, for solo piano, I attempted to capture the capricious character of the wind as it blows those first few raindrops around — as viewed through the window, from the dry comfort of indoors!

Oh, by the way, our weekend trip won’t cause any interruptions in the project. I’ll pack up the McVirgoland recording rig and take it on the road! Fingers crossed that we won’t encounter any technical difficulties!

Click play to listen:

Thanks for listening!

The 30 Days Project: Day 26

Update: Oops! I called this “Day 25” initially, but that was yesterday! It’s not “Groundhog Day,” really! Like I’ve said before, not a math person… πŸ˜›

I drove Doc to work early this morning, and when I got home and sat down to my morning online news rounds, the first thing I saw was the news that Luciano Pavarotti had died.

While I was living in New York (back in the last century! πŸ˜› ), I had the good fortune to see/hear Pavarotti perform live at the Metropolitan Opera in a production of Tosca. I could tell that his voice wasn’t as powerful and perfect as it once had been (though it was still extraordinary), but I didn’t mind one bit because his expressivity and acting ability were so sublime. He made singing look so easy, and I know from taking voice lessons that it isn’t. (It’s fun, though! πŸ™‚ )

I watched a few YouTube clips of his signature pieces. Can I just admit right here and now that I’m a sucker for Puccini? I mean, I’m a sucker for romantic music in general, but there are a few things in particular that reduce me to a puddle of quivering jelly. Here’s one, overplayed as it may be:

E Lucevan le Stelle (Video)

I used a couple of emblematic melodic gestures from this aria in today’s piece, which I wrote for 4 cellos. It would also work for string quartet, but the all-cello instrumentation has a dark, rich sound that is very special.

Pavarotti’s official website took a very long time to load just now — it must be swamped with traffic. It’s just a single page today, with a photo and the following quote:

Penso che una vita per la musica sia una vita spesa bene ed Γ¨ a questo che mi sono dedicato.

I think a life in music is a life beautifully spent and this is what I have devoted my life to.

Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)

Hear, hear.

Click play to listen:

Thanks for listening!

The 30 Days Project: Day 25

The Art of Fugue, Man!

Okay, so I finally took the dare. McDoc has been asking for a fugue pretty much since the project started. I liked the idea, but a fugue in one day? That’s a tall order. It’s kind of like doing an acrostic multiplied by a crossword puzzle, divided by a sestina. In Latin.

What convinced me was a suggestion McDoc had for a theme to co-opt. But I won’t give it away yet — you have to listen first. πŸ˜‰

Brief rundown on what a fugue is, anyway. It’s a form of imitation (like a round — think: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”) that follows particular, strict rules. It starts with a short melody, called a subject, that is played in different voices (or instruments) at two different transpositions, a fifth apart — in other words, if it starts on C the first time, it’ll start on G the second time. There can be anywhere from 3 to 6 voices; 4 is typical. I’ve used 3 here to make things simpler. After all the voices have played the subject, other interesting things start to happen, like episodes, where the subject is cut up into even smaller bits and the music cycles through different keys, and stretti, where repetitions of the subject get piled on top of each other fast and furiously. I did one of each of those. Then there’s usually a big coda at the end.

I did a couple of things that you aren’t really supposed to do in a fugue, like have 2 instruments play part of the subject at the same time. I think it works with the style of the music — see what you think!

The MIDI instruments I used are soprano sax, tenor sax and baritone sax. Those choices relate to the source of my subject as well.

Does this melody sound at all familiar?

Click play to listen:

Here’s your mystery melody answer — history and sound file. πŸ™‚

Thanks for listening!

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