Snow on the Green

Earlier this week winter storm Juno rolled through the Northeast, and while New England bore the brunt of the storm, New York City did not receive the “historic” snowfall predicted by some. This short work was inspired by a walk I took in my neighborhood at about 03:45 in the morning—during the height of the storm. As I walked around my little corner of Long Island City the snow quickly covered up any trace of the few people out and about, and I eventually found myself at the Dutch Kills Green, a small park near my home. It was completely blanketed with mounds of snow.

Snow on the Green is a 31-limit work rendered by NotePerformer samples and Sibelius notation software. Like all my works in just intonation, it sets G392Hz as 1/1 (which was the convention of Harry Partch).

Null Week

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day has always seemed strange. Life slows down, people skip work, school is out of session; it’s almost if the days don’t really exist, and the only reason we keep track of the days is so we know when to return to our daily routines. I remember hearing once that the ancient Sumerians celebrated the new year for several days, and that these days were considered neither part of the old year ending or the new year beginning. (Alas, I could find no evidence to support that claim, but I like the way it sounds.) In honor of this time I composed Null Week, a short work in just intonation for sampled electric piano. Null Week is in two-parts and was inspired by Erik Satie’s Gnossiennes.

Transeamus: The Hilliard Ensemble’s Final Album

Tonight, in London, the Hilliard Ensemble will give their final scheduled performance before they retire. Since their founding in the 1970s, the Hilliard Ensemble have been vanguards of the early music movement and remained a powerful force throughout their 40-year history. At the end of October, the Hilliard Ensemble released their final album, Transeamus. The album (which was recorded in 2012) is a collection of English carols and motets from the 15th century and a stunningly appropriate cap to an amazing set of recordings. David James, countertenor of the group, summed up the essence of this recording’s context within the Hilliard Ensemble’s catalog:

The Hilliard Ensemble’s first ever recording contained music from the court of King Henry VIII and so it seemed appropriate for our final recording to return to our roots…

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Birdman: A Score for Drum Kit

birdman-movie-poster-1Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton, is a surreal tale of a washed-up Hollywood action star who tries his hand at serious theater acting in New York City. The movie opened in mid-November and has been well received. I knew about the movie for a while but it wasn’t until I read Stephin Merritt’s review of the score that I was compelled to go see the movie—mostly to experience its soundtrack.

Birdman‘s soundtrack consists mostly of drum kit music composed by jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez, along with some “additional music” composed by both Joan Valent and Victor Hernandez Stumpfhauser, and some cuts of music by Mahler, Ravel, John Adams, and a couple other classical composers. This score of primarily drum kit work is a fascinating experiment because the music requires the film much more than the film requires the music. Additionally the work of multiple composers along with selections by a music supervisor are an interesting departure from what is the traditional model of film scoring. Continue reading

Barbershop Reality

Last night Oxygen network’s reality series Fix My Choir featured the Sweet Adelines International chorus Sirens of Gotham on the episode, “A Choir with Two Heads.” Fix My Choir‘s premise is Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, and gospel musician Deitrick Haddon meeting with choirs across the country to help solve administrative and musical problems each group may have—basically making each choir more meaningful and enjoyable for its members. The episode featuring the Sirens of Gotham is perhaps the most public, non-comedic exposure for barbershop music in recent memory, and as someone who was peripherally involved in the creation of the show, it was also an interesting lesson in reality television.

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Harry Partch’s Instruments Move to Seattle

Today I received an email from Danlee Mitchell, the owner of the instruments, regarding the fate of Harry Partch’s incredible instruments:

The instruments of Harry Partch are soon to arrive at a new home at the University of Washington, in Seattle. This fortuitous move was expedited by Charles Corey, and consummated by the enlightened vision of Dr. Richard Karpen, Director of the School of Music, UW, and the financial support of the UW. Thanks to these two individuals, and the UW School of Music, for the potential endeavor that this residency will surely bring about. Charles Corey will become the Director of the Harry Partch Instrumentarium at the UW with the full support of those who continue to uphold the Partch legacy.

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Piracy, Cyberlockers, and Free Content

On September 18, 2014, the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) published their report, “Behind the Cyberlocker Door: A Report on How Shadowy Cyberlocker Businesses Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions.” The report claims that several file-hosting services, also known as cyberlockers, are running exceptionally profitable businesses that are essentially dealing in unlicensed content such as music, movies, and television shows. The content is uploaded to the cyberlockers by users, who then share the content with each other. Links to the content are usually shared via message boards and forums. Anyone who’s downloaded unlicensed content has probably gone through these steps—basically engaging in digital piracy.
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