Loki’s Tale is a rhythmic and occasionally swinging piece for Bass Clarinet, Marimba, Vibraphone, Piano, Violin, and Cello. It uses low-pitched ostinatos and interwoven ideas that pass between the instruments, making this a rewarding piece for an ensemble.
This short piece would be a great concert opener or closer.Continue reading Loki’s Tale
Dialogue for Flute and Piano portrays a dialogue between two instruments or characters. The dialogue opens with the central four-note motive of the piece. The flute and piano exchange melodic material until they play together in a more lyrical line. The piano and flute continue to develop upon the four-note motive throughout the piece until they arrive at a slower, andante section. The flute engages in a twelve-tone melody (along with its retrograde and two inversions) and the piano employs a more traditional accompaniment, alluding to how differently the flute and piano are conversing (the flute very logically and the piano more emotionally). The piece concludes with various presentations and inversions of the four-note motive.
This piece would work well in any chamber or instrumental recital.Continue reading Dialogue for Flute and Piano
Crystal is a three-movement vibraphone and piano duet (Adagio, Moderato, and Presto) centered around the suspended chord, which does not clearly define a major or a minor tonal world. Similar to Marginalia, Crystal relies on tonally ambiguous harmonies such as the second and seventh.
It begins and ends with a dissonant, bell-like vibraphone idea, referencing chord clusters often used in Balinese Gamelan.
Adagio employs a rhythmic canon between the vibraphone and the left and right hand piano parts. Parallel sevenths and cross-rhythms are the building blocks of this movement.
Moderato uses a repeating rhythmic ostinato throughout the movement, which is first introduced by the vibraphone and then taken on by the piano.
Presto opens with a folk-like melody in the vibraphone and then leads into a more lyrical, quartal melody. It uses the parallel sevenths and cross-rhythms found in the first movement. The coda basically repeats the piece’s introduction with slightly less dissonant vibraphone chords. Throughout the entire piece, it is never firmly established whether the piece is in major or minor.Continue reading Crystal
The Contemporary Child: A Set of Eleven Contemporary Pieces for the Beginner to Intermediate Piano Student introduces various 20th-century techniques, such as polymodality, aleatory (chance music), and additive processes to the beginner to intermediate piano student. These pieces are designed to be playable by younger hands while still teaching important modern musical concepts. Each piece can be played by itself, as part of an abridged set, or as part of the full set.
- Lemonade at Home
- Shadow Melody
- Folk Song
- Black Forest
- The Elephant and the Mouse
- Choose Your Own Adventure! No. 1
- The March of Memories
- Choose Your Own Adventure! No. 2
- Add On (Additive Processes)
- The Enchanted Castle (Duet for 4-hands)
III. The Golden Spinning Wheel
IV. Cell-Phone Symphony
Solo Piano Suite is suite for solo piano containing four contrasting short pieces. Each movement can stand alone, as part of an abridged set, or as part of the entire suite.
Whirlpool is based on a flourishes of color inspired by Claude Debussy. It is in the Mixolydian mode, which lacks the tension-filled raised leading tone found in the major scale. This gives the piece a calmer and more soothing feel.
In sharp contrast to Whirlpool, Tritonic is harmonically jarring and unsettling as it is based on quartal stacks of tritones, an interval which has long been viewed in the music world as unstable. The piece also uses the cross-rhythm of three-against-two, creating a syncopated feel between the right and left hands.
The Golden Spinning Wheel utilizes fast, pianistic turns to represent the mechanics of a spinning wheel.
Cell-phone Symphony is a Prokofiev-inspired piece with a simple theme accompanied by odd and sometimes wandering harmonies. This piece explores fast registral shifts, short melodic ideas inspired by cell-phone ring tones, and advanced piano techniques, such as hand overlapping.Continue reading Solo Piano Suite
Marginalia is a three-movement suite for solo piano inspired by Impressionist composer Claude Debussy, particularly his piano preludes. The term “marginalia” refers to the notes found within the margin of a book. The three movements in Marginalia live in their own structural, tonal, and rhythmic world. All three pieces rely heavily on the use of seconds and sevenths, which are inherently ambiguous and lead the ear away from traditional harmony. Marginalia I opens with a colorful, rhythmic flourish similar to the flourishes found in Debussy’s piano prelude Bruyeres. These flourishes are found throughout Marginalia I and II. Marginalia III opens with a pentatonic melody, a favored scale of Debussy, which is then accompanied by quartal stacks.
This set would fit nicely into any chamber or solo recital, particularly alongside pieces by Debussy or Ravel.Continue reading Marginalia: I, II, and III
Three Lullabies is a three-movement song cycle for Mezzo Soprano, Tenor, and Piano. This suite of lullabies is rhythmically, melodically, and harmonically accessible to children and would fit nicely into any classical concert for children or a younger audience.
The first song Nini Baba Nini, from the book The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye, is a sweet Hindi text that describes the happiness of being able to provide food, and thus sleep, for one’s child. The setting of this poem superimposes the English translation against the original Hindi text.
The second song Villanelle of Sunset is a text by Ernest Dowson. A villanelle is traditionally a nineteen-line poem containing only two rhymes, “rest” and “day” in this villanelle. The melody and accompaniment are reminiscent of an American folk tune to reflect the strong imagery of the West in the text.
The third song In the Morning sets the text written by Amy Gordon. The music is simple and gentle in order to lull a child to sleep, despite the difficult conditions in the outside world.
Continue reading Three Lullabies
The Traveler is an art song for Tenor (or possibly Baritone) and piano that explores the mindset of a traveler or vagabond as he or she explores the world. The text, also written by Amy Gordon, describes the traveler’s eternal struggle between calling somewhere home and an intense desire to be freely roam.Continue reading The Traveler
The Midnight Whistler was inspired after a friend and I decided to take a walk late one night. While we were walking, an unseen man in a window started whistling. We paused and turned around to see who it was, but the man stopped whistling as soon as we stopped walking. He would only resume his whistling after we resumed our walking. I never learned who this whistler was, but the powerful image of a lone man singing to the night stayed with me. I decided to write a song chronicling the mindset of such a figure, and titled it “The Midnight Whistler”. This character has no friends but the night he whistles to, although he desperately watches and longs for a companion. The song has an overall ABA’ structure. The A section is largely strophic, while the B section has a slower, contrasting melodic line. To further set the mood of loneliness and longing found in the text, the aurally unsettling augmented chord, an easily invertible stack of major 3rds with no definite root, is used often throughout the accompaniment. The piece concludes with a whistled variation of the main melody found in the A section. The final chord employs an augmented chord against a g minor tonic, never giving the listener a satisfying tonal conclusion to the song.Continue reading The Midnight Whistler