Category Archives: my own music compositions

Workshop exercise on coda of my third sonata (more for my own use)

Today I make three video tapes demonstrating how the “melodic lines” of the Coda of my Third Sonata should be analyzed, in comparison to stanzas that make up a verse of a church hymn.

The music migrates from F#-Major to C ( a triton) and there are 5 stanzas of uneven length,

Stanzas 1-4

Stanza 5

The toccata counter theme breaks into 4 stanza

 

Also, as a “treat” (or “dessert”, as piano teacher used to say about memory exercises), here is just a little country-western (8 seconds) from Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington after an AGLA  dinner tonight.

(Posted: Sunday, July 30, 2017 at 10:30 PM EDT)

Milo Yiannopoulos should note the characteristics of people on the T-shirt of the artist below

Working videos leading to a “DADT III” short film

Here are my first cuts at a “Unified DADT Video” started March 4.

They will address the question of moral compass from the perspective of someone who is different, and will track to the introduction and first three chapters of my DADT-III book (2014), more perspective. There is more background here.

This content will change with time.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4 (workshop and backyard baseball)

Here is the template for Part 1, pretty much along the lines of Chapter 1 of the DADT III book.

(Posted: Friday, May 12, 2017 at 2:30 PM EDT)

A barren start, perhaps, to producing my 1960 Sonata

I tried a little experiment tonight.  I tried filming myself performing the “Big Tune” in the Picardy D Major at the conclusion (two pages before the end) of my 1960 Piano Sonata #2, from the original manuscript.

It’s pretty crude, and my brain knows the score better than my arms and fingers do.  OK, it could use a virtuoso pianist.

The piano sound is not as good recorded on a camera as it is right from Sibelius when played from a digital MPG file.

Indeed, I wrote all this out by hand on the kitchen table, a lot of it o snow days in March 1960, my junior year in high school, before entering it in a composition contest.

This is definitely a “work in progress”.

 

Also, note, grownups play with toy cement trucks.

 

 

(Posted: Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 8:45 PM EDT)

My 1960 Sonata #2 in D Minor, more notes as to making it playable

I want to make some remarks about progress with my Piano Sonata #2 in D Minor, composed in the early part of 1960 when I was a junior in high school and submitted by the “Arlington Junior Music Club”. I believe I wrote a lot of the manuscript out in black ink on snow days in March 1960 (the “three white Wednesdays), seated at a kitchen table, where I also handwrote term papers.

The work, described in an earlier posting here Jan. 27, 2016,  mixes some perfunctory “neoclassicism” with “storm and stress” and violent outburst and then triumph near the end.  It would run about 28 minutes (taking first movement repeat). The style is a simplification of the “rhetoric” in D Minor piano concertos by Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and especially Anton Rubenstein (#4), as well as the C# Minor piano concerto by Amy Beach (which really needs to be played a lot more). And I think there is a little influence even from the Beethoven Piano Sonata #17 in D Minor, the “Tempest” (probably invoking Shakespeare’s play).

.I think the work would be a cloud pleaser with a virtuoso pianist who likes “romantic style”. Very little new music (really zero) in this genre get commissioned these days.  There is a sense of balance and gathering momentum and striving toward big climaxes.

But a lot of the harmonic mannerisms sound trite to me today, in spots.  In the first movement, toward the end of the Development, starting on p. 5, there is a lot of repetitious virtuoso rhetoric centered on the dominant A Major, which could make the listener feel that piece is supposed to be centered around the tonality of A rather than D.  The same buildup occurs in the introduction to the Finale, on p. 17, and then one more time (‘Nsync indeed – imagine Justin Timberlake as the concert pianist) on p. 23, as after the final presentation of the main toccata theme and the sonata prepares for the return of the second theme as a Rachmaninoff-style “big tune” in D Major.

There is also an issue with the toccata theme that opens the Rondo, in that the first stanza migrates to dominant A Minor quickly and stays there too long.

I sketched out some proposed revisions in Sibelius.

File Son2Ch1 suggests a richer harmonization that could apply around line 3 of p. 5 and similar places on pages 17 and 23.  The experimentation could be extended.

File Son2Ch2 suggests a treatment of the toccata theme that opens the Finale by varying away from the respondent dominant A minor to other tonalities (p. 18 with a dal segno, and then p. 22).

Son2CngIntro suggests some more harmonic flavor for the opening four measures of Adagio for the first movement.

Son2ChgCodas suggests ways to make the passage work more harmonically varied as the final climaxes at the end of the first movement and finale approach.

In general, the use of higher interval dissonant chords based on the subdominant is more effective in preparing a final pedal point, and is overuse of the dominant.  Look at the great climaxes in Bruckner, or at the end of Scriabin’s Divine Poem.

I do have the original handwritten 1960 manuscript, which could be copied and pasted over manually.  I do have the PDF online (see Jam 27, 2016 posting) and physical copies.

(Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 11:45 PM EDT)

A little more work on my Sonata 3

I’ve made some modifications to the score set of Piano Sonata 3.

The coda to the finale has been expanded.

Referring back to the post on Jan. 28, 2016:

Between 4.10 and 4.11, there is an element 4.10a (file name “Sonata4Mov4Coda1suf”) that further prepares the final C Major pedal point by going back to a soft misterioso, 11 measures, very chromatic, in the tonalities of F minor and D minor, using earlier motives, and quoting a phrase in a piano piece played by a friend about 4 years ago,  The harmonies build toward the “Bruckner pivot” on the subdominant (with seventh and ninth chords).

The final pedal point start with the pivot, of different lengths in different voices, as the music blasts away, combining many toccata-like motives from the earlier movements, along with two motives from Bruckner (the seventh and eighth symphonies), before crashing down (always FFF) on a final interval of a major third, with which the second subject (the “Applause theme”) had started. Admittedly, this would probably sound a bit like Shostakovich if orchestrated (with lots of brass and drums in the closing measures).  The final C Major chord, FFF, is staccato, allowed to reverberate.

There is also a passage, D3prep (in E Major, so to speak), that would fit as 3.75, before the reharmonization of the “religioso” in the slow movement, (D3), before the conclusion of the slow movement (E-flat minor).

(Posted: Friday, February 3, 2017 at 12: 15 AM EST)

Psalm 133 was an early compostion of mine; the words get used in Trump’s inaugural speech

In his Inauguration speech, president Donald Trump said “The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when people live together in unity.” That is Psalm 133, one of the shortest of the Psalms.

As a boy, at around age 13, I had set this to music, as a hymn, rather literally phrased from the Revised Standard Version.  It is in D-flat Major.  The original handwritten may be around somewhere in “the house”.  But I had retranscribed it into Sibelius.

The PDF link and Mp3 link played on piano are here.

On the piano I started in C Major, modulated to D-flat for the portion in words, and came back to C.

I also “rescued” a juvenile Impromptu in A Minor (pdf) and (mp3).

(Posted: Monday, January 30, 2017 at 10:45 AM EST)

Music composition activities: an update (emphasis on separable miniatures)

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I want to provide an update of my music composition activities, particularly with respect to preparing miniatures that are performable on solo piano or (for practical reasons) by organ transcription.

I had discussed some of this on Nov. 25, 2015.  On Jan. 28, 2015 I described the progress of my Third Sonata.  On Aug. 21. 2016, one of the miniatures was played.

Here is a list of the items I have worked on.  For each element I have a print PDF, and MP3.  Some slower tempo items are not effective when played by the computer, as they need human nuance.  The fast pieces, toccata-like, sound effective.

“Losing It” (a curious title that I won’t explain here, other than it comes from my dark days at NIH in the Fall of 1962, about the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis), is a three-stanza hymn without words in B-fat Major.   The tempo is moderately slow.  There is a middle section in F minor.

The elements are LosingItRev2, LosingItConc (concluding a dour middle section) and LosingItClose, which recasts the original tune a little more cheerfully.

The song (originally numbered Su506Bf, had been originally envisioned as an interlude in a “choral song symphony” back in 1974.

The first stanza was performed on Aug. 21.

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The other pieces in the best shape are the “PolyTonal Prelude” (PolyTonalPreludeV2 and Coda) and the “Adagio Religioso” in B Major (Sonata3Mov3MReligioso) which is a middle section in the slow movement (third) of the Third Sonata,  This section was conceived in the spring of 1962 after a college friend at George Washington University was struck by a car near campus and killed (one of the outstanding students in the chemistry class).

I’ve added a section where the chorale religioso theme is reharmonized, with a lot more outright dissonance, near the end of the slow movement (Sonata3Mov3Da2).

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The “Hymn tune” in the Finale (of #3) first appears quietly but with restless harmony (HoldApplauseHymn2)

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That’s some time after the playful Toccata-like introduction (MSonata3FinaleS1) , which is surprisingly self-contained.

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I’ve added to the cadenza before the coda in the finale  (Sonata3Mov4Cad), which is very toccata-like and plays well on the computer.  There are some invocations of the Scriabin “Black Mass” motive, and the music progresses through atonality before settling on a G#-minor chord, before the Coda, which will start in F# Major and finally migrate to C.

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The Coda is on two files (Sonata3Mov4Coda1a and Sonata3Mov4Coda2b)..  I’ve marked the hymn melodic line in blue, and a secondary melodic line in pink.  The “Hold Applause” theme (which came to me in a dream in 2011, shortly after mother’s passing) is supposed to be singable.  There is a little bif of reference to Chopin (the A Major Polonaise, and then the Op 61 Fantasy) except that the descending interval is a major third, not a fourth (Chopin’s Op 61 sounds almost like a Scriabin Sonata to me).  But then there is a “double fist take” to settle on the final C Major outburst, with the toccata-like themes earlier in the Finale played over rising bass figures, taken from the conclusion of the Bruckner #7 and the scherzo of Bruckner 8.  The final 12 measures try to pile the history of postromantic music on top of one another in a skyscraper-like structure.  Finally, the work crashes to a close on a major third (C).

Coda Part 1 Page 1

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Coda Part 1 Page 2

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Coda Page 2 (end)

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My “legacy” site (doaskdotell.com) holding all the music mp3’s has migrated to a new server recently,  I’ll copy the new files to it soon.  Right now, they’re private (in the cloud).

(Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 at 12:45 PM EST)

My own piece, played on organ, a first public reading

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Today, Sunday, August 21, 2016, after the 11 AM service at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC , and after the Postlude, the organist-choirmaster Dr. Lon Schreiber played a brief composition by me, which sounds like a hymn (with one familiar melodic line), harmonized in somewhat modern style (maybe a touch of Prokofiev).

I have called the composition “Losing It”. It was conceived as a miniature episode in a symphonic movement of “songs without words” back in 1972.

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The piece as shown is in 4/4 time in B-flat Major, in moderate tempo, something like an “Andante moderato”.

There is a second stanza that changes rhythm to 3/4 for a while and plays with ascending passages in F minor and G minor, before returning to B-flat, this time be dragged down to say in minor. It isn’t necessarily a happy ending.

In the picture above, note the items in the hair dressing of the guest. Are these from Pokemon, from Japanese manga or danganronpa?

I will upload the entire PDF and iTunes mpg file when it is done (as played on my Casio).

Here is an article on the Austin organ at the First Baptist Church.

Here is an article on organist Lon Schreiber.

 (Published: Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 3 PM EDT)

A Note: When has “my music” really been performed in public or private?

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For the record, I thought I would make a note of when any of my own music compositions have been performed publicly.

The little Minuet in E, many times around 1959 as it won a prize.

The Sonata in A (15 minutes, 1958) and much bigger Sonata in D Minor (1960)  I think I performed these before an audience at my second music teacher’s home in the late spring of 1960.  I played the slow movement other times.  I had more technique then, and could actually pull this one off (even the finale).

I would play them in a piano room at Ewell Hall at William and Mary in the fall of 1961,  The friend liked the little one, and claims he played it by ear before an audience in Pasadena, CA before an audience over Christmas 1961.  He loved the “scale theme” in the first movement.

There may be something to this.  During the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC in 2012, the festive A Minor music played before the shows sounded so much like the finale (Presto, A Minor) of my little Sonata, arranged for strings.  Maybe the music stuck in someone’s mind over the decades.

I would play one other piece, “Bubbling Brook”, at the Morris County GAA in Morristown NJ before an audience at a talent show in the fall of 1973.

All of this is a long way from Poisson Rouge or the 930 Club.  But I bring slowly make the shorter pieces into fully publishable form.  But self-teaching of Sibelius takes time.

(Published: Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 11:45 PM EDT)

My Piano Sonata 3, manuscript notes

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I’ve written about my Piano Sonata #3 in C here before, but today I want to provide a detailed and “definitive” reference – which may get updated from time to time.

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I began to compose the work in December 1961, right after my William and Mary Expulsion, at age 18-1/2, shortly before starting at George Washington University while “living at home”.  I wrote in rag-tag small composition notebooks available to me at the time.  Since this wasn’t getting entered anywhere, I wasn’t particularly attentive to legibility.  But I actually composed the first two movements pretty quickly, and was ready for the slow movement by March.  (The “chum” from William and Mary visited me at the end of January and saw what the first movement would be like.)   Then schoolwork slowed me down.  I left aside until the spring of 1974, when I was living in the Rivercrest Apartments in Piscataway, NJ.  Having returned from spending most of the winter on a benchmark for Univac in Minnesota, I finished the slow movement, and sketched out a Finale, on regular staff paper.  By September I had moved into New York City, started working for NBC, was socially involved with the Ninth Street Center, and had pretty much laid it aside. I was 31 then.

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The First Movement (16 min.) starts with an ambiguous introduction “Molto Moderato” and then precedes to the Exposition “Allegro Moderato” (Qr at 160), 4/4, a neoclassical little invention in C.  Passage to the second theme in A Minor, also playful, is immediate.  (The only well-established classical sonata movement in a major key with second theme in relative minor that I know of is Brahms’s First Piano Trio in B.)   The second theme slows down for a moment with a Lydian mode motif that had occurred to me in English class in 10th Grade when we were studying short stories, and stayed in mind forever.  The exposition is repeated (w/o the intro).  The development is marked “Adagio” at the start and a lot of it is in slow tempo.  (The major classical work that does something like this is the first movement of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, in e minor, which I got a recording of – Scherchen’s on Westminster – some time in 1962.)  The music becomes detached, schizoid, and then goes into a twelve-tone fugato. The music tries to gather steam and disintegrates into cadenzas before getting some momentum again and building up to a romantic climax to start the Recapitulation, which states the first theme in grandiose chords but in E-fat Minor.  The second theme will come back transformed in C, and be almost “Brhamsian”.  The movement slows down and slips into minor and ends very quietly, in meditation.  A sustained quiet ending for this movement is mandatory for the whole concept to work.

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The Second Movement (11 min.), in A-flat, is the Scherzo, 3 /4, at qr of 198.  The marking is “Allegro Moderato” but the sensation is that of speed, so “Vivace” would be more appropriate.  The pianist should play this opening fast and with virtuosity.  (It doesn’t lumber, like Bruckner.)  There are a lot of passages with octaves in eighth notes at high speed. The first Trio, in F Major, Moderato, in varying compound time signatures (like 9/4, 6/4) is a crude mockery of a march that comes back three times.  The trio is a mini-rondo itself as it is broken up by cadenza-like passages (in bizarre meters like 2/8).  The first part of the “exposition” in A-flat returns, to go to a second trio, which is a satirical waltz in C# Minor, which then pixilates. Finally, the “exposition” concludes in A-flat, and ends with one little flourish, FF, in the extreme registers of the piano.

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The Third Movement (11 min.) is the Slow Movement or “Elegy”, and it starts with a 12-tone row, but “harmonized” in E-flat minor (a key used in the first movement to start the recapitulation).  There follows a main theme, a kind of dirge in F# minor, 12 /8, which had come to me when my father was recuperating from his minor heart attack over anxiety over my expulsion (it had happened to him around Feb. 15 when he was on business in Williamsburg, ironically;  he had driven home and was hospitalized briefly; he was told he had smoked his last cigarette).  Father often complained about loud music from the basement, so I tried with this theme to see what could be done “quietly”, but rather mesto.  There follows an etude-like episode in B-flat minor, 8 / 8 (odd measures), and then the F# Minor mesto returns as a grander theme, now often FF, on three staves.  I then move to a “middle section”, a Largo Religioso in B Major, which is rather like a highly chromatic hymn tune without words.  (Or, so to speak, “Words Fail”).  This section can be played in a self-contained manner (I’ve tried it on an organ and it works!).  Finally, a long development section starts, Grave, 3/4, with the twelve-tone row.  Going into some arpeggio-like passage work, it picks up momentum, and comes to an unresolved dissonance as a climax.  Here I recently added another passage of development, starting to recapitulate other composers.  Building on the Religioso theme (now in E Major), the tonality comes apart, as the “octave theme” from the Bruckner Ninth is overlaid upon it, and then the motto of Scriabin’s Black Mass appears, but in reverse (trying to rise up).  All this comes collects into one more unresolvable dissonance.  Finally, the opening tone row is played backwards, in E-flat minor again, and the movement ends quietly on a couple staccato minor chords, back in desolation.

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Finale (12 min):  It starts in C, Andante 2 /4, and then quickly a fugato, Allegretto, 6 /8, and some other meters (even 7 /8).  I’ve outlined the structure in detail in my January 15, 2016 post.  There is a major “hymn-like” second subject in F# Major (with a lot of modulation and dissonance), then more development, which gradually brings in external music, and then a cadenza, all “crashing” to dissonance before the F# Major theme returns, and then fights being dragged back to C Major.  The triumphant end, in C, plays a lot of earlier material polyphonically over the final chords, that finally end in a “drumbeat” and one final shout, FFF.

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My NIH notes (from my late 1962 stay as an inpatient) say that I “began to compose a series of piano sonatas based on a 12 tone scale. These were compositions that he did not hear in his head but rather worked out as a prearranged formula.”  Not very complementary, and not exactly correct.

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Below I will diagram how I performed the work at home recently.  It took me, with my level of technique, about 67 minutes to get through it.  A good pianist would perform it in about 50 minutes, with 15-second pauses between movements.  That’s long for a piano sonata.  I can perform the first movement better than the rest of the work (and make it convincing), but I’m quite confident that the concepts work if well executed.

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In the chart, a “c” means I played from iTunes, a “p” means that I played on the Casio.

The handwritten score pdf is in the same link as the previous day’s post (on the legacy doaskdotell.com site).  There is one URL for each movement, such as this for the first movement.   More instructions on the location of the physical booklet are forthcoming.

 

4.9Coda 1 stanaz F#71Sonata3Mov4cadcends in dissonance

Mov-seq desc page file played comment
1.1 Moderato,C 1 na p Introduction
1.2 Allegro,C 2 Sonata3Mov1E1 p Exp, first theme
1.3 Scherzando,a 3 SonataMov1E2, E2a,b p 2nd thm,Ossia avl; take repeat
1.4 adagio 4 SonataMov1D1 p Development, 1st 2 pages
1.5 Atonal 6 Sonata3M1D2,D2a (ossia) p 2 pages
1.6 Grave, cadenzas 8 Sonata3M1D3 p
1.7 allegro 10 Sonata3M1D4 p pick up speed
1.8 Allegro Maestoso,ebmn 14 Sonata3Mov1Ra p Recapitulation
1.9 transition 15 Sonata3movR2 ossia p
1.10 transition cont 16 Sonata3MovR3 p climax
1.11 2nd theme, C 17 Sonata3MovR4 p
1.12 Coda starts 19 Sonata3Mov1RC p Coda starts;
1.13 Tranquillo 20 Sonata3Mov1R5 p
1.14 Coda ends 22 Sonata3Mov1Rc1 p Movement ends quietly in minor
2.1 Scherzo, Vivace, Ab 23 Sonata3Mov2E1 c
2.2 Scherzo, cont 25 Sonata2Mov2R2 c
2.3 Trio 1, F 31 Sonata3Mov2R3 p long trio, only a little in Sib;
2.4 Reprise 1 42 na brief
2.5 Trio 2, c# mn 42 na play this w cadenzas
2.6 Reprise 45 na conclusion
3.1 Elegy, eb min 49 Sonata3Mov3I1 p
3.2 lamntation f# 50 Sonata3Mov3E1 p father’s theme
3.3 8/8 b-f min 51 Sonata3MovE2 p
3.4 lamentation f# in octaves 53 Sonata3MovE3-1a
3.5 Religioso B 55 Sonata3Mov3Religioso c chorale
3.6 Grave molto, atonal 57 Son3Mov3D1 c
3.7 accel 61 Sonata3Mov3D2 c,p much was played manually
3.8 extra material 61f Sonata3MovD3 c comes to a dissonance
3.9 coda, palindrome 62 Sonata3Mov3Coda p
4.1 Andante 2/4; Allegretto 6/8 63 MSonata3FinaleS1 c
4.2 Andante 65 MSonata3Finale1 – 2, after playing at 65A p,c
4.3 Mahler 5 theme 67 Sonata3Mov4E2a c
4.4 intermed develop 67f Sonata3Mov4E3a c
4.5 F#Maj hymn 68 HoldApplauseTheme p
4.6 Devel 1 with external minuet 68 Sonata3Mov4E5a c I probably should call this D5a
4.7 Dev 2 with external songs 69 Sonata3Mov4E5b c D5b
4.8 Cadenza, external materials 70 Sonata3Mov4cad c ends in dissonance
4.10 Coda 1 Stanzas go to F Min 72 Su702CfromF#c 17 measures p
4.11 Coda 2 Modulate to C, stay in C 72 Sonata3Mov4Coda2 p end FFF

 

(Published: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 at 9:30 PM ESR)

Update: Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016

I found this printout of some alternate music (6/4) for the final coda in the Finale.  Don’t recall the file number.  I need to work it in.