FRIDAY, May 7, 2021 – 3:51 PM
Things I’ve Written for Students but Also for Myself
I wrote this with small intervals in mind, so it’s a teaching piece. But I also like the feel, so I tried to put some special ideas into it.
Bert and Arty Blues
I wrote this about 30 years for a friend and her husband. It’s just a silly little song, upbeat, with perhaps the feel of something from the 1930s. It’s supposed to have a sound from a very different age.
Dark Jazzy Minor
There is a particular atmosphere in certain scenes in movies. You might think of an older movie where people are in a nightclub. The mood is quiet, dark. As always I composed this without a title in mind, but I mostly used jazz minor for the theme. Jazz minor is just a major scale where the 3rd note is lowered to b3. But I also used a bridge that toggles between a diminished and augmented chord, which has a uniquely haunting sound.
This is one of the shortest things I’ve written. I was in a very sad mood, thinking about people in my life who were really important to me. So it is bitter-sweet. I’d like to expand it someday, and I may. But for now, I’ll leave it just as it is, this tiny little moment in time.
Just a Lonely Night
Mostly written in pentatonic, I wrote this to illustrate a melody with somewhat jazzy sounding inversions of seven chords.
Variations on a Spanish Theme
Many years ago I was going through a method book and found a series of variations that was sort of interesting, but sort of boring. I took the idea and added a whole bunch of more complicated ideas, all over a very famous chord structure that is very famous in Spanish music, most of all in guitar music. That progression is always Am, G, F and E, those chords. But I did not like the theme. A week ago I rewrote the theme to something I like a bit better.
Variation on a Theme of Chopin
The chord structure hints at a very famous Chopin E Minor Prelude as I illustrate an example of how to use a harmonic structure to improvise a rolling melody.
I wrote this about a year ago, but I fleshed it out a bit for a more advanced version. It is all about a double harmonic scale, where you start with a major scale and then flat 2 and 6. It’s a scale you won’t hear in traditional music until perhaps the time of Debussy or more modern composers.
Bass Line in C
This is something basic and rather simple that I wrote many years ago. I decided to add a modulation to another key, F major, then added a coda with extra modulations. Finally, I added octaves. It’s no longer easy to play, but it’s a lot more fun.
There was a little piece by Michael Aaron that my brother and I played called “Indian Dance”, and we both liked it. So I gave it to several of my young students, and they have all picked it as something they like to play.
Using this very simple idea I expanded it, made huge changes to the harmony and greatly changed it in many other ways, using only a bit of the original theme. This has way more notes and is much harder. I have not yet taught it.