Wind and Light

October 25th, 2012

Wind and light are two things which we know are there not because they bring attention to themselves, but because they bring attention to everything else. Wind creates motion and makes the world come to life by causing things to catch light differently so that we can see objects in various ways. Wind and light make the world dance. They enhance whatever they affect. And yet no matter how intense they both are, they never get in each other’s way. They seem to act in complete independence and yet they work together so skillfully. They even pass through one another while acting upon the same object. Wind enhances beauty by causing motion while light makes this motion visible along with the rest of the object. They are a wonderful pair.

These thoughts may seem like arbitrary musings because they are. This is exactly what the piece is about. Some may ask, “Why did you bother?” Because beauty was made to be observed. So I do observe; this is me pointing at it.

I had been playing with the guitar riff at the beginning of this piece for well over a year, and I finally decided to turn it into a composition. To do this, I simply performed the guitar part I had in mind and slowly expanded the work until I came up with Wind and Light. This is very similar to the way I constructed Conviction; I recorded a couple of friends improvising and slowly turned it into a piece of music.

Generally, when composers create music, they start with a melody or a fragment of melody and develop it into more material by introducing the same material in multiple different ways. This is what gives music flow and continuity. Both this piece and Conviction were constructed differently from the traditional method by developing unique and interesting sounds from existing sounds, and then generating more interesting sounds that seemed to compliment the original material. Writing melodies actually came last; the melodic material in both pieces came from listening to what I had and simply writing out the melody which I heard pop out of the textures. I used to assume that everyone heard these melodies, but I recently realized that the melodies aren’t actually in the texture; I’m just very vividly imagining them. So I wrote the melodies in for everyone to enjoy.

I didn’t originally have it in mind to perform a lengthy drum solo in the middle of the piece. I needed a way to get to the climax of the work and couldn’t figure out a good way to do it. I had already used my snare drum, hi-hats, and ride cymbal with a pair of bunch sticks to accompany much of the piece up until that point, but the sound had not been thoroughly explored yet. So I improvised the drum solo and put the rest of the material over the top of it to punctuate the direction of the solo to make it more understandable. This is one of those cases where “it seemed like the thing to do at the time.” I’m very glad it came together like this because it is the portion of the piece where the listener can almost hear wind and light acting upon the drum.

When I do these electroacoustic pieces, I try to frequently post musical material on the Facebook Page for people to comment and share their thoughts with me. If you’d like to get in on this, simply connect with the page by clicking “like” and you’ll be able to help me write better music. Every little bit of feedback makes the music better, so please share your thoughts.


Listen to "Conviction"

July 19th, 2012

This piece began when two of my friends (Zach and Eva) and I were improvising on drums, guitar, and violin. It sounded too cool to not record, so I got some samples from them and used their samples to help create what you’re about to listen to.

Also, throughout the past two weeks I’ve been posting frequent updates and getting feedback on this work. I used the composite feedback from fans to guide the way I shaped and polished the piece. Even the title was thought up by my friend/fan, Jon. It has turned out to be a challenging and interesting experience for all of us and has yielded good music. So we’re going to do it again soon!

If you’d like to be a part of the creative process in the next piece, feel free to “like” Always in Transition on Facebook so that you can get the samples in your newsfeed and participate! See you there!


Listen to “Conviction”

July 19th, 2012

This piece began when two of my friends (Zach and Eva) and I were improvising on drums, guitar, and violin. It sounded too cool to not record, so I got some samples from them and used their samples to help create what you’re about to listen to.

Also, throughout the past two weeks I’ve been posting frequent updates and getting feedback on this work. I used the composite feedback from fans to guide the way I shaped and polished the piece. Even the title was thought up by my friend/fan, Jon. It has turned out to be a challenging and interesting experience for all of us and has yielded good music. So we’re going to do it again soon!

If you’d like to be a part of the creative process in the next piece, feel free to “like” Always in Transition on Facebook so that you can get the samples in your newsfeed and participate! See you there!


Flute Solo – Consider the Lilies

May 30th, 2012

Writing this flute solo was the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity of facing the challenge of writing something that needed to be played by someone new to an instrument (Lily had been studying flute for about two years). This forced me to figure out ways to create sounds that were easily produced but were still new and interesting. What made the process much easier was the fact that Lily was already able to have a strong and full sound on the lower register of the flute (quite an accomplishment for her short time studying the instrument). So I focused on bringing out the contrast between the different registers while also creating complex harmonic implications to draw as much attention as possible to every sound being made throughout each line. This process yielded the opening melody, which reminded me of wind gently blowing across a field of flowers. Between that and Lily’s name, Matthew 6:28-30 (NIV) immediatly came to mind:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

So I then wrote the rest of the flute solo based on the emotional process a person might go through when hearing Jesus’ words during a difficult time in life.

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, my wife’s high school flute student, Lily, premiered this flute solo. This premier performance can be viewed below:

Nothing I write is ever easy and this piece is no exception. Lily did a fantastic job of rising to the occasion! Hats of to her and my wife for working so hard in pulling it off so decisively!

Download score (PDF) $2.49
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While originally being written as a flute solo, Consider the Lilies (not so coincidentally) works very nicely for the alto saxophone as well! I’ve included a preview of the score in the sample below as well.

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What Wondrous Love Is This? – Solo Saxophone

April 3rd, 2012

My arrangement of What Wondrous Love Is This? for solo saxophone opens with a clear and unembellished statement of the melody. This is then followed by a short theme which I’ve designed to represent the overwhelming joy that Christians have in response to the wondrous love being depicted in the text. This theme is reiterated after every statement of the melodic material, and the arrangement culminates with the full version of the theme as high in pitch and volume of which each instrument is comfortably capable. The arrangement ends with another simple statement of the melody but with a repetitive and embellished ending that focuses on the text, “And through eternity, I’ll sing on.”

Download score (PDF) ($2.99)
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Below is the text I kept in my mind as I wrote this saxophone solo:

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

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