Musical Compositions and Arrangements
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You may also be interested in David's virtual rock band Focal Chords.
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The music is listed in reverse chronological order. (What? Nothing since 2005? Don't worry, work is in progress on a piece for electric guitar and string orchestra. Watch this space!)
David says, "My 60-second electronic piece Philosophy has been selected for the 2005 60x60 project, organised by VoxNovus. A robotic choir sings the word 'philosophy'. The voices originate from an old text-to-speech program set to produce a monotone at various pitches."
Autumn Days (2005)
David says, "Autumn Days is an extended version of the Air from my Autumnal Suite. Not only is it a bit longer, having a new middle section, but it's also arranged for more instruments: two flutes, two clarinets, piano, harp, two violins, viola, cello and double bass (eleven instruments instead of the original five)."
Caratacus Blues (2005)
This is a trombone and piano duet, the trombone taking the leading part throughout. David says, "I wrote this to learn something about how the trombone works. I'd be interested to hear from any trombonists who might want to try out the piece."
Who was Caratacus, and why was he blue? (Woad, possibly?) Wikipedia has the answer.
In the summer of 1970 as a student, David attended the Isle of Wight pop festival, together with about 500,000 other youngsters. Following Woodstock, this was the height of the "peace and love" hippy era and an experience that has remained with him all his life. He particularly remembers sitting in the arena on a balmy summer night, with strong herbal aromas permeating the air, listening to some of the top rock bands of the time. This is the atmosphere that he hopes to evoke in Nocturne, which is consequently a lot livelier than many other works sharing its name.
The piece is in classical sonata form, but makes bold use of blues scales and rock rhythms and alternating duple and triple time. After a solo vibraphone introduction, the flute enters with the first-subject melody. The clarinet takes over with the second subject. In the ensuing development, material from the two themes is explored and the music modulates through several tonalities before returning to the home key to restate the themes and end with the lone vibraphone once more.
This piece was recently given its first performance by Ensemble 10/10, the contemporary music group of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Coorey. The performance was on 12 June 2005 at the Tate Liverpool art gallery, at a free public concert in conjunction with their Summer of Love exhibition of 1960s-70s art. The concert was presented in association with SPNM.
You have a choice of two versions of this piece: David's own version, realised with the aid of a computer, or a live recording made by David from the audience with a handheld digital recorder. (He apologises for the poor instrumental balance and audience noise!)
Anecdotes (2004-2005, Work in Progress)
This composition consists of a set of short pieces, each of which tells a story or paints a picture; however, the stories and pictures are up to you to create in your own mind's eye.
The recording you hear is the finished product, and the music is not intended for live performance except in electronic form.
In the sonic world of Anecdotes, all sound sources are equal: conventional musical instruments, electronic synthesised sounds and natural sounds are all employed. Any or all of them may be subjected to electronic processing to create the desired result.
This is an ongoing project. More tracks coming soon!
Autumnal Suite (2004-2005)
Autumnal Suite is a set of pieces based on the structure of the baroque suite, but strongly influenced by jazz and blues. The music, written over the period October 2004 to January 2005, aims to conjure up images of autumn.
The suite is scored for oboe, clarinet, cello, synthesiser and drumkit. Unlike the conventional baroque suite, the movements are in different keys.
Overture "The end of summer". David says, "This is the most baroque movement, and is in the form of a French overture. A slow first section in dotted rhythm quotes from J.S. Bach's second orchestral suite (BWV 1067). It's followed by a faster fugato section, which incorporates the B-A-C-H motif. The music moves from baroque to jazz as the summer fades into autumn."
Air "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness". David says, "This piece was inspired by Bach's famous Air from his third orchestral suite (BWV 1068), but follows it only loosely. The music opens with a misty morning synthesiser sequence, then a mellow cello melody takes over as the morning sun breaks through. The piece ends at sunset with the evening mists drawing in again."
Rondo "Squirrels at play". David says, "This lighthearted movement, in 11/8, 7/8 and 5/8 time, conceals a couple of quotations from Vivaldi's most famous work, plus harmonies from two jazz standards... but you'll need to listen very carefully to spot them."
Chacone "Walking through oak woods". David says, "The chacone (chaconne in French) was in slow triple time and comprised variations over a ground bass. Here the cello plays a repeated three-bar phrase, on top of which the woodwind play variations in a 12-bar form. As you listen to this, imagine walking through autumn woods with leaves and acorns dropping from the trees."
Jig "Bonfire night celebrations". David says, "The jig (French gigue) was a lively dance in compound time, usually the final piece in the suite. It was in binary form with repeats. In this piece, a 12/8 time signature provides a jazzy swing feel. Each section has a twelve-bar blues structure. After the binary form is completed, the first theme returns as a typical 12-bar blues, closing the suite in a boisterous mood."
Fandango (Arrangement, 2004)
This is an arrangement for synthesiser of the harpsichord solo in D minor attributed to Soler (R146). The arrangement is dedicated: "To Wendy Carlos, who showed us the way."
In 1767, Casanova saw in Madrid the fandango, a dance involving "...voluptuous gestures which make it the most seductive in the world. It cannot be described. Each couple only dances three steps, but the gestures and the attitudes are the most lascivious imaginable. Everything is represented, from the sigh of desire to the final ecstasy; it is a very history of love. I could not conceive a woman refusing her partner anything after this dance, for it seemed made to stir up the senses. I was so excited at this Bacchanalian spectacle that I burst out into cries of delight." Casanova promptly learned the steps, and successfully employed the fandango as a weapon of lass seduction.
David says, "In this arrangement there are two lead voices, one male and one female, that alternate and intertwine representing the dancers, over Soler's insistent, repetitive bassline. I've added some inner parts to fill in the harmonic texture, while trying to keep true to Soler's original intent."
Xonata Signature Tune (2004)
Only 17 seconds long! Distorted electric guitar and synthesiser join the symphony orchestra in this fanfare written for the Xonata website (now defunct).
Tundrian National Anthem (2004)
David says, "Tundria is an imaginary country located off the coast of France, with its own constructed language devised by Gabor Sandi. Its national anthem, Tundria la Belliyta (Tundria the Beautiful) was supposedly written by a 19th-century Tundrian composer, Carlo Xonata, but in reality I composed it myself!" Here it's played on the organ.
My First Tune (1960)
David says, "I wrote my first tune, just eight bars in length, at the age of ten. The melody, for the descant recorder, is surprisingly well constructed. It's in the key of D minor, still one of my favourites. I've added a piano accompaniment which tries to reproduce the harmonies I had in my head at age ten, as best I can remember."