Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

Music Suggestion: Only in Sleep – Ēriks Ešenvalds

Driving home last Friday night I heard Eriks Esenvalds Only In Sleep and was pretty blown away with it’s beauty. Take a listen here:

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Behind The Music: Still, Still And Quiet

I began writing Still, Still And Quiet as a Choral piece in the fall of 2011. It has evolved over time and really wasn’t finished until a few years after the initial conception. I’ve always loved choral music because of its inexpressible richness and how it can move one in ways that other music is unable. Listening to Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque one day in the fall of 2011 I was inspired to write a choral piece. The timing was right, as the ideas and emotions were inside and ready to be let out.

After putting together all the music (which is SSSAATB) I turned to friend and lyricist Andrew Mauzey. Andrew listened to the piece and Psalms 37:7-9 was impressed upon him, particularly the King James Version. Which reads:

7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

Once that happened the lyrics flowed out. To read all the lyrics for Still, Still And Quiet click here.

When recording this album the means to hire and track an entire chorus were unfortunately out of scope. (Hopefully soon!) However, Third Wheel was available to work on this piece. (Third Wheel is a local woodwind trio) It was then decided to turn the piece into a small orchestral piece. So the soprano parts were tracked with flute, the alto parts were tracked with clarinet and the tenor and bass parts were tracked by oboe. They were incredible to work with!

Once those were in place we added underlying keyboard and midi strings to give the piece a large, but “unnoticeable” sound. At that point there was a good musical base in place. I then turned to friend and soprano singer Lacey Venanzi. She recorded all of the soprano parts and did it beautifully.

Working with such talented musicians was a treat. Due to the variance of instruments, abstract ideas and composition I was not sure how the piece would turn out. And all together the piece turned out great (and unique).

Listen to Still, Still And Quiet below:

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Behind The Music: A Spiral

A Spiral was written in the spring on 2013. That spring I was approached by an old acquaintance and artist named Ryan Martin ( He mentioned he was working with videographer Nicholas Domaguing ( to make a short video about his work and asked if I would write the score.

They gave a few examples of desired musical pieces/styles, which were primarily dark orchestral. They also described a desire for a “nature” or “outdoors” type of sound. Since there wasn’t a budget we decided to work with only a few simple instruments. Something orchestral (piano and celesta) and something natural (world drums).

During the time I had recently had news of an old friend committing suicide. And the melody of a guitar part written years earlier came to mind. Surprisingly enough it translated wonderfully to piano and is the opening and closing sections of the piece.

With all those inspirations and ideas the piece came out. Surprisingly enough I performed the entire piece on piano (which wasn’t easy being primarily guitarist), however, the middle section piano was sped up via midi. Thomas Newman’s work has always inspired me and his American Beauty score helped shape the world drums parts.

Listen to A Potential Outcome of Technology below or view the video Portrait of an Artist here.

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Behind The Music: A Potential Outcome Of Technology

A Potential Outcome of Technology was written in the spring of 2012. Initially it was written as a score to a single episode (potentially more) in a web based film series. However, due to time constraints the piece was never used for the episode.

When first asked to score the episode I felt quite under prepared. The creator and I spent a good amount of time discussing the series concept. The setting for the series was in the near future. The main character was a computer genius frustrated with societal downturns due to excessive technology. Hence the piece’s name. The creator wanted a piece that embodied the future, techno, and computer hackers. Which is quite outside my normal scope of music. Interested in the challenge and diversity I took on the project.

Sitting at the keyboard with a sound bank called “techno stadium” I began fumbling around. The first thing to come out was dark keyboard melody in 7/8 time. Not exactly sure how 7/8 came out naturally, but it did. Then I built the chord structure and piece around that melody eventually adding electric guitar, vocals, beats and more. The piece was initially set up in three sections (soft, medium, loud). Each section could be added to the end or beginning of another. Theoretically the piece could have been used in various ways throughout the episode; that is back to back, completely separate, or lined up in a row.

Listen to A Potential Outcome of Technology below.

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Thomas Merton – No Man Is an Island (page 36)

Music and art and poetry attune the soul to God because they induce a kind of contact with the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. The genius of the artist finds its way by the affinity of creative sympathy, or connaturality, into the living law that rules the universe. This law is nothing by the secret gravitation that draws all things to God as to their center. Since all true art lays bare the action of this same law in the depths of our own nature, it makes us alive to the tremendous mystery of being, in which we ourselves, together with all other living and existing things, come forth fro the depths of God and return again to Him. An art that does not produce something of this is not worthy of its name.

Thomas Merton – No Man Is an Island (page 36)

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Music Suggestion: Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.

I’m not a die hard R.E.M. fan, but their album Automatic for the People is great. Listening through it the other day refreshed my memory of this great music. Not only is Everybody Hurts one of many great tracks it also is a great message.

When your day is night… hold on
When you feel like you’re alone… no no no you’re not alone
When you think you’ve had to much of this life… hang on
Everybody hurts sometimes… so hold on

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Music Suggestion: The Jon Brion Show Featuring Elliott Smith

Stumbled upon this little gem earlier today. Elliott Smith is an amazing artist. I find his music a bit on the dark/depressing side of life, which makes it difficult for me to listen to his music regularly. However, it’s still some of the best music I’ve heard. This is a video of him playing a few songs on The Jon Brion Show, which sadly never aired on TV, as Jon Brion is an amazing musician in his own right. Enjoy!

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Music Suggestion: I Think It’s Going To Rain Today – Randy Newman

Randy Newman’s music and I have always had a love hate relationship. This piece falls on the love side of that relationship. Can’t actually get it out of my head at the moment. Here’s a great version of it:

As I’m a pretty die hard Peter Gabriel fan it’s only fair to include his awesome version of this song also. This track is on Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back album. Here it is:

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Music Suggestion: Ave Maria – Franz Biebl

This piece is so good. I can’t get it out of my head. Take a listen:

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Music Suggestion: Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel

I’ve always been a die hard Peter Gabriel fan, but something about this song has kept coming to my attention over the years. I first heard it years ago when I first began listening to Peter Gabriel. Then in the summer of 2007 I was wandering through a metro station in Paris and this song began to play. The song had faded out of my memory and I paused from rushing around just to listen. It struck me then as it strikes me today; a glimpse of reality and a glimpse of hope. Hope you enjoy:

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