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Random Thoughts


By | Random Thoughts | No Comments

I get an indescribable simple joy from solving compositional problems. My family think I’m crazy when I play one of my pieces (or a section of a piece) over and over again, but for me there’s a wonderful pleasure in basking in the glow of a musical phrase or chord progression that elegantly gets the piece where I wanted it to go, especially if it contains something a bit surprising or different.

When I orchestrate other composers’ music, I have found this kind of satisfaction is especially high. When starting with a piano piece that I want to expand to the full orchestra, I face all kinds of problems and questions that I have to solve. Which instrument plays what line? What if the melody won’t fit elegantly in any instrument’s range? How can I replicate the unique percussive qualities of the piano? What do I do with rolled chords? PLUS you want to solve all of these problems in a beautiful way!

Here are my recent orchestration projects, where I took another composer’s piano music and set it for orchestra. In each case, I have also posted the original piano score so you can compare what I started with.

Spectres by Jason Yu – Orchestration

February 14, 2018

Suite by Emiliano Manna – Orchestration

February 25, 2017

Suite by R. Lezrich – Orchestration

January 19, 2017

Speed Composing for Orchestra

By | Concert Music, Random Thoughts | No Comments

So I had this great idea that started as a dream.

What if, at the start of a concert, a composer were to get up in front of the crowd and take suggestions: a time signature; a tempo marking; a minor or major key; some featured instruments; maybe even a scene or situation to describe. Then the concert would begin with whatever works were programmed. Intermission. Second half. Then, finally at the very end, the composer bounds up to the stage with newly printed score and parts: a brand new piece has been written specifically for the audience while they have been enjoying the concert.

The orchestra premieres the piece by sight-reading the music, maybe playing it through a second time (if they feel so inclined).

Of course, I immediately wondered if I could actually pull it off. Could I write an orchestral piece in 2 hours? I gave it a try the next day.

The first piece I speed-composed didn’t make it to completion. Two hours go by awfully fast.

But I wrote six more pieces in the next six days, and each of those was pretty okay, I think. Here are the best ones out of the pieces I’ve speed-composed so far:

Horn Trio

November 26, 2017

Aground – Orchestra

January 8, 2017

Two Birds – Orchestra

December 23, 2016

Rain on the Promenade – Orchestra

December 22, 2016

His Final Dogfight – Orchestra

December 21, 2016

Hiking to the Top – Orchestra

December 20, 2016

…but I cannot feel love — a Robot’s lament – Orchestra

December 19, 2016

Now the wish is one day to do it in real life, with a real orchestra!