News, Thoughts, Soapboxes, and/or Essays

Two new pieces!

The past week or so has been busy, but as far as music goes, I have two new pieces! Which further proves that I’m somehow managing to get things done. So let’s talk about these new pieces.

Nocturne for Prepared Piano (and unprepared pianist) is a nine-minute work for prepared piano (duh) and theatrical pianist, and it takes Chopin’s E-minor nocturne as its source material. The work explores two primary themes including the obvious textural/timbrel changes to the piano and the emotional impact of things simply not going your way.

Skepticism for solo clarinet was written for Arianna Tieghi for the 2012 International Arts Educators Forum in Perugia, Italy. Because Ms. Tieghi is looking for a piece from all 50 states, I figured I would write a piece highlighting the stereotypical Missourian response: Skepticism. The work begins in skeptical 12-tone and moves to a convincing, whimsical, tonal melody.

Nocturne is scheduled to be premiered in mid-April, 2012, while Skepticism should be premiered in July. I’ll be forgoing the usual posting of musical examples until after the premieres. Meanwhile, I’m off to work on a piece for cello and electronics!

Chair, and back again

When I'm not composing (or rather, when I'm taking breaks from composing), I like to work on furniture (in case you couldn't tell from the desk-building post). I've specifically been a fan of mission-style furniture, which is fortunate since OU apparently is as well. Not that I choose colleges based on their furniture choices or anything…

But because OU has a multitude of mission-style furnishings, sometimes these things break, or get worn out, or the university just decides to get rid of them, and they sell them at the University Surplus store, which is only open to the public one day a week (and has a glorious selection of everything). And because I have jobs that require me to sit on the internet all day, (heh. “requires”) I was excited when I found that they had at least one mission-style dining chair for sale. Of course, the university has these things everywhere, and when I bought my first two, they had maybe 20-30 for sale. Luckily they hadn't sold the one they had by the time Steven and I showed up, and shortly thereafter I left, 5 dollars poorer, and 1 chair richer.
Chair 3

So the chair arrives back at my apartment, and I'm finally able to sum it up. It's a little shaky, it's scratched, the wood color is off, and the choice in fabric is…special. So of course, I started the refinishing process by taking it apart.

2012-02-08 20.08.522012-02-08 20.24.05

2012-02-08 20.33.47All those spots? That's the dust that was in my living room from disassembling this thing.


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Of course, after taking the entire thing apart, sanding off the old finish, I had to put it back together. I've omitted some steps, but here it is, reassembled.

2012-02-12 12.46.23

While waiting for the glue to dry, I found the fabric that matches my existing chairs (it lives in one of the drawers in the spare bathroom for some unknown reason).
2012-02-13 19.19.27

And so, after several days of matching stains and getting the runs out of the varnish, I ended up with this:
2012-02-19 13.38.05

Overall, after $5 for the chair, another $5 for stain and a dropcloth, $20 for adjustable clamps (which I'll use frequently), and $0 for the leftover fabric, varnish, and brushes, I ended up with a high-quality chair that has a story.

Now if I could only find another one…

Talking. About music.

I hate public speaking.

This is nothing new to anyone who has known me for more than three minutes, and I’ve certainly gotten better at it since I’ve been in Oklahoma, but I still avoid it every chance I get. I’m usually fairly quiet when I’m around new people, and I don’t usually say much in class (I maintain that I got through my thesis defense because the committee was surprised that I actually spoke).

But one of the things that composers have to do is talk. Especially about their music. Especially to other people. Not that we’re good at it. But it still falls into the category of things we have to do.

And so, with 2012 being a year where I’m focusing on personal growth, I decided to take an open slot at this month’s Oklahoma Composer’s Association Norman Salon concert (OCANS?). The OCA salon concerts are a casual performance and Q&A session with the composer, and a good time is usually had by all. So I took Creatures from the Black Bassoon and played it for a group of composers and musicians and music lovers, fielded questions and comments about the piece, and then went out for milkshakes.

And it was awesome.

It’s interesting how an audience can pick out things that you haven’t noticed, or hadn’t intended. Of course, I’m new to all manner of electronic music, so hearing the audience reaction (and mine) was enlightening. It was fun. I want to do it again.

There’s something empowering about talking about one’s own music. Like, I can’t be contradicted. No one can tell me “You weren’t thinking about the complex relation between polyharmonic tetrachords, you were thinking about Batman.” I ran into the same thing when I conducted Peter and the Wolf at Drury. “I have an orchestra. AND I’M UNSTOPPABLE.”

So yeah. I’d like to do it again.

And besides, I could really go for another milkshake.