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video and update

Rhonda and her son, Isaac, made this video of a piece I wrote last year. It’s very flatter to me that they took the time and trouble to do this.

The Lord the Almighty pdf
Life and Breath.pdf
Goodness and mercy final,pdf
05 Psaltery.pdf

I have been remiss on updating, I know. But I have been putting in hours on my composition and also have been in a weird space. Who isn’t? What an odd time in America. I’ll try to update a bit more often. In the meantime, a rather dreary description of my recent compositional trials follows.

Compositional Update

I think I now have an idea how the second movement to my trumpet/organ piece is going to go. It has been through multiple revisions and has been a bit of a struggle for me. But, I think I can hear the shape of it now and can envision being satisfied with working it out.

So I started with the first version without thinking about using the harmon mute on the trumpet. Then I decided to dedicate this movement to Miles Davis. The harmon mute is a slight nod in his direction. But Lord knows I wasn’t trying to match his genius or even show musical influence or do a tribute.

So the second version,  included a B section using the mute. Then I decided the new material was incongruous with the old. This included a carefully worked out four part harmonization of the melody, Lord I want to be a Christian. I cut everything but the muted section and made a third version.

Then I decided the muted section would need a B section of its own. The fourth version of the piece included a fairly worked out organ accompaniment. It was simple but I really liked it. Again, the new B section didn’t fit. So for the fifth version, I decided to use the original four part harmonization in a new key. After toying around a bit with this, I arrived at what I hope is the beginning of the final version.

In its present state I toned down the A section and saved some of the better parts for its return after the B section. So now the piece starts very dissonant and dreamy, moves to a chorale setting in a different key of the melody with the organ playing three distinct lines like a trio under the trumpet playing the melody. Then the A section returns and builds to denouement. I am more satisfied with this idea.

get thee behind me, church and composing


I am trying to not compose or do much church work today. I did go over to the church to pick out music for Sunday and landed on some charming Purcell to match the hymn tune, Westminster Abbey. We will use a couple of stanzas of the hymn, “Christ is made the sure foundation” as our shortened sequence hymn.

And when one is composing, musical ideas are never that far away from consciousness.

But I did Greek today for the first time in a while. I also read three translations of Canto X from Dante’s Paradiso. I have been working daily on getting through Mortimer J. Adler’s Aristotle For Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Simple. This stuff clears the brain. I’m reading the wonderful edition I have of T. S. Eliot’s poems and spending a lot of time with the foot notes.

Jeremy purchased and refurbished a rectangular table for the kitchen. This is a good idea with five people. Previously we had a round table which took up more room. A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of  African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland (9781635572612):  Hill, DaMaris: Books

I have kept up my poetry reading. Working on A Bound Woman Is A Dangerous Thing by Da Maris B. Hill and Kith by Divya Victor. Both are excellent and challenging.  I own the latter.

A Home in My Ears: Talking to Divya Victor – BLARB

I read Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang. It caught the eye of Alex so now Eileen is reading it to her.

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang

Enough. Time to go sit in the back yard and read some more.