31 May 2010

Storytellers - 6



The sixth and final 'Storyteller' piece. To reiterate, my storytellers are Matt Antonelli, Paul J. Alessi, Stefanie Cowan, Patrick Henthorn, Amin Matalqa and Claire Naber-Matalqa. Today's story has no unifying theme. I merely asked that they tell me the first thing that comes to mind. That lack of overarching theme seemed (in conjunction with having explored older, more Classical / Baroque forms in this series) to thus require the severe sense of order that only Serialism can provide. So, while this is not 100% serialized in the strictest Stockhausen or Boulez sense, it nonetheless is comparably meticulously structured. And it goes to show the immense ability of musical expressiveness to stretch beyond our farthest imagination, because the moment something so literal as this material is put through that filter the emotional impact of the material is all but lost.

Memorial Day. An important holiday, and I am truly grateful for those who have served our great nation and kept it possible for us all to live our daily lives largely worry free. The Bolder Boulder is also today. I didn't run it. So, with that guilt, I thought I'd go with a running shot. Today's photo sits somewhere between a failure and a mild success in that I did not achieve the image I had in my head, but got a few steps closer and gained some insight into how to better achieve it in the future. I'll probably be returning to this idea...

30 May 2010

Sketches 5x5 - 5. Postlude



The fifth and final movement featuring Alexis Marsh on clarinet, accompanied by flute, bass clarinet, alto sax and soprano sax. A quick and jaunty little closing thought to the series of sketches. It was an unintended irony that a watershed day like 150 be host to such a microburst of music ...

Ahhh, Memorial Day weekend. The perfect time for a dip in the pool... Closed until next week. What is this? And why is the water green? Maybe just stay closed until you can fix that little problem. Thanks neighborhood.

29 May 2010

Storytellers - 5



Part 5 of the Storyteller series; each of the people were asked about something inspiring in their lives. Something that wakes them up each day; something to aspire towards ... The diversity (as with all the previous stories, though particularly in this case) is quite fascinating. It seemed that amid the chaos, just about anything can inspire someone, if it has the fortune of finding them at that point in their life where they need that inspiration.

In Colorado, just stepping outside can be inspiration. The state is practically a playground for the outdoors types. And yet, as available as it is to me, I don't often enough take advantage. Even still, when I do go for a hike or even just admire the mountains from afar on a clear day, I am renewed. Ready to return to chasing my aspirations.

28 May 2010

Sketches 5x5 - 4. A Pleasant Tune 2



Movement 4 of the 5x5 sketches, featuring composer Alexis Marsh (here on alto sax, accompanied by flute, clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano sax). Like movement 2, we offer a pleasant little tune.

This is my... amazing... technicolor dream... undershirt.

27 May 2010

Sketches 5x5 - 3. Fugato



Movement 3, this time featuring bass clarinet (backed by flute, clarinet, alto sax and soprano sax, all performed by composer Alexis Marsh). There are a handful of jazz-inflected fugues from the repertoire that I absolutely love, in particular by Franz Waxman and Leonard Bernstein. It seemed time to undertake one, even if in the miniature / sketch format ...

I went with an obvious metaphor for layers and multiplicity here. Better than yesterday's attempt.

26 May 2010

Sketches 5x5 - 2. A Pleasant Tune 1


Alexis Marsh returns as the 5x5 performer for movement 2 (featuring today soprano sax backed by flute, clarinet, bass clarinet and alto sax). A simple, pleasant tune.

Well, in trying to get around my camera's inability to do multiple exposures I've found that I really don't like this method of trying to get around my camera's inability to do multiple exposures. A valuable lesson.

25 May 2010

A Holy Day



On this day, precisely 33 years ago, the world was suddenly, unexpectedly and gloriously changed. It was a holy day, all the more so in retrospect. This was a day which taught me, among many things, the glory that is solo French Horn (here provided by Brian O'Connor). As a bit of fun remembrance, I offer these etudes on a theme by John Williams.

This is tough when you're working with micro machine sized Star Wars models. Man am I glad I was able to find those. This took long enough, but I was contemplating using an LED to have the X-Wing firing on the Tie Fighter.

24 May 2010

Survey 5 - Range


Part five, the final of the "Survey" series, today featuring the quintet's favorite range on their instruments. As with the other questions the specific criteria for 'favorite' was kept vague (is it your favorite because the best melodies fall there? The best color lies there? It's easiest to play there? Most challenging? etc etc) Again, the players were violinist Alyssa Park, double bassist Nico Abondolo, clarinetist Andrew Leonard, flutist Amy Tatum, and oboist Tom Boyd.

For a camera, range could really be viewed as the level of detail you are able to express from shadow to highlight, focal length or depth of field. Here the shadows and highlights don't show much detail, clipping slightly, the focal length is on the shorter end at 50mm and the depth of field is quite shallow.

23 May 2010

Sketches 5x5 - 1. Prelude


Today marks part 1 of a 5-part series to round off May. These sketches were written for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano sax and alto sax, all of which are performed by the wonderful composer Alexis Marsh. Each movement features all 5 instruments with each of the 5 serving as the 'soloist' one time (today obviously being flute).

Busssy day. Sub-par photo. It happens, just hopefully not that often. Anyway the concept is still intact despite the poor execution: multiple exposures.

22 May 2010

We'll cross that Bridge when we come to it



This was taken on a pedestrian bridge leading to a light rail station near I-225 and Yosemite. The initial idea for the shot required it to be just shy of sunset and unfortunately night crept up on me. So with the initial idea scrapped, it was time to improvise. I like the way it turned out.

After suggested to me the shot he was planning on taking for this post, I got to thinking about what rail stations and train stops seem to represent. There's an interesting dichotomy of the omnipresent clock (the trains must run on time, as we know!) and the incredibly relaxed waiting (since you're after all, powerless to force the train to come early). So in a way, a rail station is high energy and exciting place which has also somehow been frozen in time (this sort of romanticizing is clearly the result of my Los Angeles car-based routines).

21 May 2010

Poppin' Champagne



Okay so it's water, champagne ain't cheap.

Andy had this idea for a super high speed, celebratory champagne photo, so it got me thinking. Initially some sort of surreal, beautiful 'moment in time' music started to come to mind, but then quickly was replaced by the simplicity of a bit of (for me, rather rare) straight up musical humor. This is also (even more rarely) a direct program piece: in high school one night I remember riding along in a car with friends, just relaxing and hanging out, holding a bottle of champagne in my lap. The movement of the car must have over-pressurized it because I remember the top spontaneously bursting and blasting off like a cannon, hitting me in the ear. It was very painful.

20 May 2010

Survey 4 - Style



Once again we return to the Survey series featuring violinist Alyssa Park, oboist Tom Boyd, clarinetist Andrew Leonard, flutist Amy Tatum and double bassist Nico Abondolo. This time was a question of style. "Of the many available to you, which style do you think best represents your instrument? What type of music feels most at home under your fingers?" The diversity was immediate musical delight ...

I may wear many styles, but there's nothing like a t-shirt and jeans.

19 May 2010

Storytellers - 4



Part 4 featuring my wonderful storytellers. Today is a collection of poignant, or in some cases overtly tragic stories. But they all have their beauty to them in some way or another. Glimpses of the darker sides to life we bump into regularly. I sincerely hope I've captured musically precisely how these stories make me feel. I confess that this one was a huge struggle.

Anyone who claims not to gamble is wrong. The gears that drive our everyday lives require our input to work, and there is never a guarantee that tomorrow will be like today or that any given outcome will be a good one. Enter tragedy and sorrow. To play the game is to accept pain as a necessity, but we live and love because the alternative is even more bleak than the tragedies we endure in the process.

18 May 2010

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion



It is important to be hip and trendy and to wear all the right clothes. Nothing is more important than your appearance.

The marimba is unimportant ...

17 May 2010

Storytellers - 3


Part three of the storyteller series today ... stories of love and romance, executed in a passacaglia the results of which are decidedly unromantic!

I want to hear a story with all the whistles and bells.

16 May 2010

Practice Room



A piccolo player sits in the practice room working through her scales and gets a bit carried away (today the part of the piccolo player shall be played by Heather Clark).

This well apparatus is just off the Platte in Denver, it's super cool.

15 May 2010

A Wasted Opportunity



The anti-adventure. The hangover. Picking TV over what's out the window. Sometimes you need it, but it always comes at the cost of something else.

A composer has complete freedom. He can write whatever he wants. He has the greatest orchestra in the world at his disposal with a virtually unlimited amount of time in the studio. It's a perfect situation.

14 May 2010

All These Things That I've Done


And all these people I know. I don't nearly have a wide enough lens to include half the photos of the people I have and do love. So an extraordinarily limited sampling will have to do. You all count, though.

Inspired by Andy's concept, I decided to make a melange of some themes from a few of my film scores over the last few years. Captain Abu Raed, Grace, Make the Yuletide Gay, The Echo Game and The Serpent and the Sun are all featured in a sort of dizzying blur of flutes (performed by Heather Clark, whose brilliant playing was also featured on most of those scores' original recordings).

13 May 2010

Survey 3 - Note


Today returns us to the Survey series featuring violinist Alyssa Park, oboist Tom Boyd, clarinetist Andrew Leonard, flutist Amy Tatum and double bassist Nico Abondolo. The source material for the piece was simply my asking them "what is your single favorite note on your instrument?" The reasons why were, of course, widely varied, but nonetheless I had one note from each instrument from which to coax a musical journey.
Busy night and not a lot of time to shoot. This is my genius profound offering.

12 May 2010

Tough Decisions


Life is filled with some really tough decisions. This hot sauce choice has provided a recurring challenge in my life. Perhaps this is a dramatic understatement for life's legitimate trials, but days when a hot sauce choice is the most pressing conflict are made all the sweeter by the days with more complicated issues.

Seemingly small, irrelevant decisions like this face a composer every day (particularly when one draws the analogy, as I often do, between cooking and composing), but in reality they're actually not all that small and irrelevant. In honor of Andy's peculiar choice of hot sauces, I chose the dilemma between two different types of shakers. How does it sound? How does it behave when it's rolled? When it's struck? Is it better for smooth dynamic arcs or sharp percussive strikes? Does it have more of a hissing high-end feel, or wooden middle range feel? Does it create sound by moving lots of small beads or sand, or is it by the clanging of a few larger chunks? How loud does it get? How soft? How quickly does it speak (ie, is it quick and chirpy, or do you have to coax the sound out) ..... etc etc etc

11 May 2010

Storytellers - 2


Part two of the storyteller series (the scherzo), featuring my wonderful sextet of bards: Matt Antonelli, Paul J. Alessi, Stefanie Cowan, Patrick Henthorn, Claire Naber-Matalqa and Amin Matalqa. One small warning to the faint of heart: today's stories are rather ... colorful.

This is all I got tonight, so sleepy...

10 May 2010

Survey 2 - Least Favorites



Part two of the "Survey" series today focuses on the musicians' "least favorite" melodies from the repertoire. As with part one, I kept the specific definition of 'least' rather ambiguous. Thus the melodies performed were chosen for being simply over-played or over-used, musically unmoving, poorly suited to the instrument, etc. Once again, the players were violinist Alyssa Park, double bassist Nico Abondolo, clarinetist Andrew Leonard, flutist Amy Tatum, and oboist Tom Boyd.

Peas were, without a doubt, my least favorite vegetable as a child.I would literally gag at the taste, texture and overall experience of eating peas.

09 May 2010

Mother's Day



Technically I am cheating today as I clearly did not take this photo and I can't possibly credit it, but I like it, so I'm using it. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Today is Mother's Day and with it must come the obligatory salute to not only my mother (Shelley Wintory), but also her mother (Dorothy Frankenfield). Both are lifelong proud Texans. As such, I brought back today my oft-explored counterpoint-driven piano miniatures. This time it's a series of variations on the "Yellow Rose of Texas." Both of them being lefties, it seemed similarly obligatory that the piano part be somewhat biased in that way ...

08 May 2010

Survey 1 - Favorites



As a corollary to yesterday's "Storyteller" series, today presents the musician's equivalent: "Survey." In part one I asked 5 different musicians to play for me the single best melody from the repertoire, specific to their instrument. The definition of "best" was kept somewhat vague, and could therefore be interpreted in a variety of ways (ranging from mere personal preference through very thought-out reasoning about how the melody fits on their particular instrument, etc etc etc). The players were violinist Alyssa Park, double bassist Nico Abondolo, clarinetist Andrew Leonard, flutist Amy Tatum, and oboist Tom Boyd.

A favorite snack for the cats. My once pretty "bamboo" has been gnawed to a nub.

07 May 2010

Storytellers - 1



Today begins a 6-part series based around that wonderfully unique human talent for telling stories. These are unfiltered, unmodified stories which were prompted without any prior warning. Woven together the results represent, to my taste, truly spontaneous music-making. Obviously a special commendation is due to my excellent storytellers for their honesty and candidness: Matt Antonelli, Paul J. Alessi, Patrick Henthorn, Stefanie Cowan, Amin Matalqa and Claire Naber-Matalqa. I must also recognize and praise the composer Lembit Beecher, whose explorations into storytelling in his own music were definitely the inspiration for this series.

Funny enough, I was just telling Austin how much I thought I was basically over rock concerts. And then I went to one. Just being at the Fillmore reminded me of a story, perhaps I will add it tomorrow, but for now I am too tired.

06 May 2010

A Little Help From Our Friends (bonus!) part 4



This 3-part series decided to have a bonus 4th part, courtesy of a melody composed by our dear friend Patrick Henthorn. I should explain that the resulting piece is a bit of musical humor, as Patrick put it, "like that of The New Yorker" (ie, completely nonsensical to the vast majority of people). I confess that he's probably right...

Montgomery Burns: [very badly disguised with a fake moustache] Hello, my name is Mr. Snrub. And I come from, uh... someplace far away.
Montgomery Burns: [to himself] Yes, that'll do.
Montgomery Burns: [back to Mayor Quimby] Anyway, I say we invest that money back in the nuclear plant.
Waylon Smithers: I like the way Snrub thinks.
[everyone looks suspiciously at Mr. Burns, then Smithers fires a rope a the roof, helping Mr. Burns to escape]
Light, sweet electric light. Sure, there is a very valid argument to it contributing to modern sleep deprivation by negatively affecting our natural use of light as a cue for sleep, helping us to ignore our circadian rhythm, but I still prefer it to needing a candle in hand past sunset.

05 May 2010



There are a few holidays and otherwise noteworthy dates throughout the year that I find completely irresistible to pay homage to. I've generally not been too interested in literal allusions, but my heart absolutely knows no limits in its love for Latin-based music. So today is a salute to Mexico and its 148th anniversary since General Seguin's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla.

Take that France!

04 May 2010

A Little Help From Our Friends part 3



The last installment in this mini-series featuring melodies written by some of my dearest non-composer friends. Today features Claire Naber-Matalqa, a multi-talented writer and also the wife of my dear friend Amin Matalqa (whose salute to his dogs Cello and Oboe was the subject of part 1 in this series).

Water Displacement – 40th Attempt, a fine petroleum based product. It was designed, with hydrocarbon hydrophobicity in mind, to repel water. Its role as a lubricant, a fortuitous side benefit.

03 May 2010

A Little Help From Our Friends part 2



Continuing the series begun yesterday, today's melody was created by my wife Megan.

This little backflow preventer helps keep your grass green and your drinking water clean.

02 May 2010

A Little Help From Our Friends part 1



As a severe change of pace, it seemed the time to create settings of melodies by some of the important non-composers in my life. This is always a surprisingly stimulating endeavor, as the novelty of melodies created by non-professionals often lend themselves to fun development. Hence today features a wonderful little tune by Amin Matalqa, a talented filmmaker I've had the great pleasure of working with several times. Today's tune is inspired by two of the great loves in his life: his two dogs Cello and Oboe (I'm not making that up ...).

I'm taking this series as a way to look at inventions and conveniences that make our lives what they are today, from the simple to the complex. I decided to view friends as being the inventions themselves and their inventors. I also wanted to think, and in turn have anyone looking, think about how they affect our interactions with our own friends. Also since I'm posting so late today there are 2 bonus photos.

01 May 2010

First of the Month


Did your OG check come?

The inevitability of bill-paying and whatnot that comes with the 'first of the month' led irresistibly to a short passacaglia (itself a sort of throwback to the large volume of counterpoint-driven music written earlier in this project). Perhaps influenced by the rather dour tone of my current film projects, the passacaglia wound up sounding pretty intensely introspective and depressed. Don't blame me ... I'm just the messenger.