These include a clarinet ensemble I directed briefly as well as vocal and strictly electronic music.
Note: you can see "liner notes" with more in-depth discussions of each movement at A Day at the Fair's own page.
A treat for you! This set of works is performable only by computer. I plan to somehow release the sheet music so that anyone can attempt to perform it, but that's after I'm done writing it. (: So far I wrote only the movements you see here; I'll add more as I write them. My goal is about an hour's worth of short pieces, with maybe a long one or two, but nothing too complicated. Each movement is set for a different synthesized instrument or sets of instruments; Intrada is for Hammond organ, Serenade is for vibraphone, Carnaval is for music box, Primera Danza is for an electric piano sound, Temple is for sitar and bass, Club Groove is for a synth "orchestra", Picnic is for woodwind quintet, Squares is for square waves, Canon in Pyramid Form is for 16 pianos, The Wallflower is for a synth group, By the Lake is for piano and vibes, and Tefillah is for solo flute. I write this partly to celebrate the memory of the composer Gyorgy Ligeti, who passed away June 2006. His music was my first true introduction to modern music, and the first piece I heard — Ramifications — that made me really like minimalism. That piece was for 12 strings, 6 tuned a quarter step sharp.
A Day at the Fair is in that spirit — it uses two sets of staves, one tuned a quarter step higher, to create micronotal music by MIDI. (: However, I don't treat them as separate voices in any way: melodies, harmonies, and everything all use quarter tones whenever I can fit them in. I'm writing this for two main reasons: the first is to learn to sing and become familiar with quarter steps, which have intrigued me for a while, and the second and more important is to find out what new harmonic and melodic possibilities exist with an expanded scale. One thing you will surely notice is that much sounds "out of tune". You can only really tell in chords, since the chord members don't have the expected relationships with each other. I often use the note between the major and the minor third for triads, which has an interesting neutral sound, and I flat the minor seventh of a dominant chord an additional quarter step (which brings it closer to, albeit on the other side of, the "natural" overtone seventh). Leading tones should be raised a quarter step to make them closer to the tonic. So a dominant 7th chord in C can be spelled (where d means half flat and t means half sharp) G Bt D Fd or G Bd D Fd. In the first case, the interval between the 3rd and 7th is a perfect 4th; in the second, a tritone. The normal 12-tone scale has a good solution for this that sounds fine, but in the 24-tone scale, these changes make it a bit odd. So I'm experimenting. One of the big problems is that the most important relationship, the fifth relationship, doesn't generate any quarter tones, so it doesn't bother anyone that these are normally missing — to show you what I mean, 12 stacked fifths will take you from C to C, but if these are natural fifths, the final C will be 23 cents — a quarter of a semitone, so an eighth tone — sharp. That's not much. That interval (called a comma) will spoil unisons, but that's about it. Thirds will give you a quarter tone quite quickly, but our system of tonality is based almost entirely on the fifth, so that leaves little room for quarter tones. Therefore, fundamentally quarter-tonal melodies and harmonies are less intelligible to the ear. Hopefully this experiment will discover some pretty ones. (: Try the Serenade, for instance!Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – I – Intrada Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – II – Serenade Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – III – Carnaval Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – IV – Primera Danza Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – V – Temple Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – VI – Club Groove Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – VII – Picnic Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – VIII – Squares Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – IX – Canon in Pyramid Form Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – X – The Wallflower Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – XI – By the Lake Listen to A Day at the Fair for Keyboards – XII – Tefillah
This recording is missing the words. Beren and Lúthien is a duet for soprano and tenor, accompanied by piano; the text is J. R. R. Tolkien's poem about Beren and Lúthien Tinúviel sung by Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. I finished it in June 2006 and started it in the summer of 2005. It was originally meant to be a duet for myself and someone else, but the someone else lost interest and the piece wasn't finished until I picked it up again the following summer. I revived it as a work dedicated to the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association. It will hopefully be recorded one day by HRSFen. If that happens, I will post the live recording here, of course. If you will be in the Cambridge area and want to help me record this, email me.
The poem is nine stanzas long, with each stanza containing eight lines of iambic tetrameter. That's a lot. The melody, then, is sung about eighteen times, but it's different every time: the embellishments vary, the shape varies, the chords vary, the mode varies, etc. The piano part is mostly tonal, though not always, making this one of my first successful uses of atonal material. When listening to this, I recommend also reading along in the poem. There are no repeated lines, though occasionally the singer not singing the text will sing "Tinúviel!" or "Beren!". There is also little melisma, but almost every iamb is a full beat (eighth quarter) in 6/8, so the 16th notes in "ri-i-i-sing la-a-ark and fa-a-a-al-li-ing rain" are somewhat clear. This poem, by the way, can be found at this site.Listen to Beren and Lúthien
After listening to a CD of Brazilian guitar music in the summer of 2005, I decided that it would be cool to write a chorinho, and as a clarinet player, I wrote it for clarinet and piano. I made a concerto out of it because, hey, why not? So here are three chorinhos in a concerto, for clarinet and piano accompaniment. A chorinho is kind of like a rag — it's explained below, since Carinhoso is a chorinho as well. The first movement is a fast, bird-like choro; the second is a melodious waltz; the third is a boisterous samba. The second movement in particular should quiet you critics that think I can't write melodies; it's one of the most beautiful things I've written. The movement titles are just colors — the -inho ending is a diminutive, so the first movement is entitled Yellow Chorinho (with a diminutive yellow), the second, Black Choro (where "choro" rhymes with "ouro", gold, and Ouro Preto sounds nice), and the third, Greenish Chorado (where -ado is the ending for the past participle). So not very meaningful, but very, very pretty!Listen to Concerto de Choro – I – Chorinho Amarelinho Listen to Concerto de Choro – II – Choro Preto Listen to Concerto de Choro – III – Chorado Esverdeado
This was a class project for 21M.303. Obviously. I would never write a string quartet without being compelled to do so, and I would certainly not do it in a Classical style if I had the choice. It did end up sounding pretty good, though, which is why I'm putting it up here. Interestingly, when we were presenting the first halves of our minuets in the class, the professor asked, "Are you Brazilian?" Except he didn't ask me; he asked someone else. The second half is therefore my best Villa-Lobos impression while staying within the bounds of the assigned style. I was originally waiting for an actual recording, which is why I hadn't uploaded this while I was taking the class, but one thing I've discovered is that playing music is hard, and in a class setting, the hired professional musicians don't usually take the performance seriously and basically sightread everything. This results in a rather uninspired performance. Do not have unrealistic expectations for the preparation of your music!Listen to Minuete
This is a choral arrangement of Hatikvah I wrote for my a cappella group at the time, Techiya. It's mostly a reharmonization. I think I'm starting to have a style to them. It's homophonic, generally, and I generally go for complex harmonies rather than simple ones. If the last four bars sound like Grainger, by the way... Well, let's just say I have learned the importance of the b7 in major. (:Listen to Hatikvah
So once upon a time I had a clarinet quartet (for those of you who aren't well-trained in musical terminology, a clarinet quartet consists of four clarinets, which can be of various sizes — this one contained three sopranos and a bass). We met once a week for half an hour each time for a semester, and we never performed, but I did get to write music for it — nothing original, just arrangements. I figured I could transcribe some chorinhos, and those sound so much better with a flute that I figured I'd add one. Thus I wrote Carinhoso for mixed woodwind quintet (which is different from a "flute quintet", which would consist of five flutes, perhaps including a piccolo and an alto flute; this quintet only contains one flute and therefore it can't be a flute quintet). It can be said that chorinhos are to Brazilian music what ragtime is to American music. They sound quite similar, in fact. But like the Australian and European wolves, they're not related. Only later were chorinhos influenced by jazz and evolved into bossa nova. But anyway. Carinhoso is one of those "signature" Brazilian songs, something like Stars and Stripes forever in the US. It's about as famous as famous gets. I use it for auditions and wooing women: I sang it to a gorgeous woman on our second date, and now we've been dating almost two years! A sung version is available, as well.Listen to Carinhoso
A clarinet quartet (see the note above for Carinhoso — there are NO STRINGS in a clarinet quartet, since then it wouldn't be a clarinet quartet; it would be some sort of mixed ensemble) version of this famous tune. I've always liked it, so I wrote it for my quartet. I don't know much about the piece except the melody, so I can't really talk about it, but hey, it's pretty. (: I should mention that while I haven't ever performed this, I have given other people the sheet music and they have performed it with some success, though not in my presence. This probably applies to the rest of my clarinet ensemble music.Listen to Tennessee Waltz
This song is totally awesome. I don't remember how it ended up being sung at the summer program I went to before senior year of high school, but it is just really cool. The intro is beautiful, and the rest of the instrumental parts are masterful. This is the kind of stuff you don't always notice in Disney music, but back however many years ago it was, it was really good. Even the solos are amazing. So I figured I'd arrange it for my clarinet quartet as a crowd pleaser — though we never did perform, but still. The bass clarinet is instructed to ad lib, which can only be approximated by grace notes and odd rhythms, so the recording isn't perfect. And "Oh, man, this is really livin'!" is supposed to be spoken, but it's not there. Oh, well. The bass clarinet has the solo most of the time, but during the instrumental section, the other three clarinets each get a solo. There was nothing special about the second solo — the piano solo — that would be interesting to reproduce on clarinets, so I replaced it, though I won't tell you with what. ;pListen to The Bare Necessities