26 November 2013

Moon and Sun

Creating the score for Moonrise anew in Sibelius looks like taking three sessions of note-plugging, and a fourth session of proofing. Which is not unreasonable. Session II took place last night.

One advantage of composing a passacaglia is: the bass line is turning continually in the back of my mind, and I find it quite easy (when boarding the train in the morning, e.g.) to ride the flow . . . a fresh variation or three seem almost to compose themselves. There is no hurry on this, and my plan is actually to build up to perhaps 32 variations.

In other news, positive response to Out in the Sun has come in, from a wind ensemble conductor in New York.

Not that I know he would have any use for it, but it is with this fellow in mind that I have been revisiting Moonrise.

One quirky thing about the Sibelius 7 sounds: not matter how long a tone needs to be sustained, the flugelhorn sound cuts off after a certain (and brief, as it feels to me) duration. I may need to tinker with a "for MIDI" Sibelius file, just to get a sample sound file which at least has all the voices sounding when they ought to be . . . .

24 November 2013

Guess I changed my mind

In this post of last week, I seem to have felt I was letting the Credo sit for a spell.  Perhaps because it has been a few days, that was spell enough.  Anyway, when I did a little composing on my lunch break yesterday, it was to continue the Credo.

In the morning, as I was walking to the bus which I missed by probably two minutes, I realized just what one of the passages of the Credo needs for some finishing.

23 November 2013

On the knees of the gods

It may be, at last, the moment when Counting Sheep (or The Dreamy Abacus of Don Quijote) finds its way into the ear of the public.

Or, it may not.

What is certain, though, is that I've sent all the materials in.

I originally wrote the piece for woodwind quintet and piano, for Giorgio Koukl and friends.  As things transpired, though, it was not the fate of this score to reach an audience at that time, or in this form.

A couple of years later, on something of a lark, I arranged the piece for a full wind ensemble.  It still was not the fate of this score to reach an audience, at that other time, or in that other form.  (Honestly, this arrangement could stand some tweaking, and I am keen to set to it.)

A couple of months ago, I learnt from a friend of a call for scores for a 'Pierrot-plus' ensemble, and I realized that the piece which I was compelled to submit for the call, was a re-scored version of Counting Sheep.  I was in the greater part finished with the adaptation at the end of October;  only I realized when combing through the PDF file of the original score that there were many typographical errors in the Ur-text.  While the piece was yet uppermost in my musical mind, I wanted to make certain that we have also an authoritative text of the original scoring.  That was one of the musical tasks I wrapped up while a-vacationing in the southlands.

The Big Project to which I needed to attend after the score itself, in order to send in all the necessary materials, was an accurate list of performances ("for all works composed by the applicant").  Partly to simplify the task for myself, and partly not to exasperate those who will review the materials, I restricted myself to performances from 2008 to October of the present year.

Anyway, at long last, all the materials are ready, and as they were ready, they are now sent in (why wait, eh?).  Sent in three weeks ahead of the deadline, what is more.

Renewed intimacy with the score has confirmed my confidence in the music;  I think it must be a strong contender.  (There are others who share my opinion, so I am perhaps not entirely eccentric in this.)  As ever, though, there is no knowing whether the ensemble to whom I have sent will think much of the piece.  Certain it is, I have sent music to a number of groups dedicated to new music, who have no use for my work.

So:  we shall see.

22 November 2013

Only a little mysterious

At last, I think I've got all the bits together.

And three weeks ahead of the deadline, too.

20 November 2013

Only briefly

Some little progress, tinkering with the two marimbas, yesterday and today. And I find myself thinking passacaglia thoughts of a curious sudden. And I want it to be a five-measure pattern.

Oh, and I've found my Oxford Book of Carols.

19 November 2013

Hopper Theory

Now one might think that a fellow busy with a variety of non-musical commitments day in, day out, is just spinning pipe-dream after pipe-dream by maintaining a number of compositional projects as works-in-progress. (Quite apart from White Nights, which is very much Its Own Thing, on my desk at the moment there are, waiting for completion, in chronological order by inception: the Credo; some short recorder and harpsichord pieces; My Island Home [percussion ensemble]; Feeling the Burn [flute and marimba]; and Plotting [violin and harpsichord].) But all the pieces which need to be written (which is most of them, and quite possibly all of them), I will have written, in time; and once I form a fair idea of a piece, it pretty much lives in a space somewhere in the Henning brain, where it waits upon me until I may visit again and warm up the kettle.

Now, the Credo, for which I may just possibly find some interest in a choir away south, I am leaving sit for a short while, as I consider (a little) if the present state of the piece (about half of the text is set now) is quite what I wish.

I am therefore at liberty to focus attention elsewhere, and (not at all surprisingly, really) I wrote up a bit of a marimba canon on this morning's train, for My Island Home. All in all, I suspect that I may wind up wrapping up the percussion ensemble piece first . . . and then, in all likelihood, the piece for Paul Cienniwa and EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks.

18 November 2013

At last! What transpired the first week of this month!

High time there appeared a What I Did on My Vacation post.

First, lots of Counting Sheep (or, The Dreamy Abacus of Don Quijote) . . . got the Sibelius file of the new arrangement done; and then got the Sibelius file of the original sextet done.

Made a good start on a new percussion ensemble piece, My Island Home.

Had to stop work on the percussion piece, because the system upgrade pushed to my notebook resulted in the loss of the spiffy Sibelius 7 sounds library. My Island Home was sounding like a 70s video game, and we none of us could face the sonic horror.

Finished the clarinet-&-marimba duet, just what everyone was expecting.

Took the (for the most one-entire-year-old) MS. of the Credo, and plugged it into Sibelius. On doing so, discovered that I had somehow missed one phrase here, one entire line there; and thus came about the first fresh composition on the piece for many, many months.

Compositionally, that was it; and since in fact I also spent the greater part of the vacation flat-out relaxing, I am pleased that so much musical work got done.

This past week was re-entry into the work routine, and was quite predictably exhausting. But a good dose of rest over the weekend set me up at last for some fresh work, and I've now started the violin-&-harpsichord piece, Plotting (y is the new x).

Looks like I should see to a bell choir arrangement of a dulcet Christmas carol, too.

"Diseases of the band"

Zappa was right again, and in ways he might not have dreamt:
In addition, a General Dentistry study published in 2011 showed a wide variety of bacteria, yeast and mold present in 13 previously played high school band instruments....
Didn't clean his own clarinet for 30 years?  One understands that school instruments may not be taken care of the best (particularly in economic downturns where the school's priority is, naturally, to funnel as much of the money to sports, sports, sports! as possible) but, folks, if it's your instrument:  own it & love it.

17 November 2013

A kind of landmark

I began this blog five years ago this month.  I've not kept at it quite steadily, but, there it is.

This was my post five years ago today.

A new day

Amazing what a difference a good dose of rest will make.

Ready to get to work, and now only lacking the time (in the short term) to plant the ideas onto paper. (C'est-à-dire, life has returned to normal.)  Ideas flowing both for the piece I've been asked for, for violin and harpsichord, and for a hitherto-unimagined jeu d'esprit involving a sequence of musical quotation.

But for now: off to work with my splendid little choir.

16 November 2013

The bus, the train, the composer

Didn't do any composing as such on the morning commute. Read through the hard copy of both the Credo so far, and just what everyone was expecting. Very well pleased with the instrumental duo...in some respects, I think it some of my finest writing.

In a way, I'm not sure just what I think of the Credo. I composed far the greater part of the present draught at the piano, and I know I was happy with it at the time. My feeling, then, is that I should respect that, leave that bit intact, go on and set the remainder of the text, and then worry about it. And perhaps at that stage, any propensity to worry shall have evaporated.

This first week back into the routine, after the vacation, has been somewhat rough. But now, I have the evening off...I expect just to shut down, and leave off any intellectual effort until tomorrow at the earliest.

15 November 2013

Enter the subtitle

Inspired by my morning commute these past couple of days, I've discovered a subtitle for Feeling the Burn (Bicycling Into the Sun).

10 November 2013

Author's error?

In Poe's story "The Gold-Bug," the first excavation site is a failure. The mistake in locating it is attributed to Legrand's servant, Jupiter, not knowing his left from his right; and that error sets them strolling at an incorrect angle.

However, a few pages earlier, when he asks his servant if he knows left from right, Legrand himself confirms that Jupiter is left-handed.

08 November 2013

A duo done

Yesterday, I finished (at long last, we might even say) the clarinet and marimba duet, just what everyone was expecting, five-minute jazz-ish (I have to add that -ish, lest I field accusations of trying to practice jazz without a license) flurry of energy for the two players.  The piece had lain largely finished since mid-September, at which time I needed to concentrate not only on practicing for the October recital at King's Chapel, but on writing a short piece for Peter & myself to play.  As I was writing that piece (Zen on the Wing) I formed the idea of a trio (title yet to be settled upon), concluding a set of three subset duos, the four pieces all together to comprise the Op.114.

So (you see where this is going), if four notes be a start, I have started a flute/marimba duet, Feeling the Burn, a piece with as yet no home.

This morning I've been revisiting (again, at long last) the Credo, which probably I had not touched for a year.  Plugging the existing manuscript into Sibelius, and at quite a relaxed pace (for I am enjoying this vacation thing).

05 November 2013


A funny thing. Well, in a way.

Two men, both with a background in Literature / the Arts, both of them with a lively appreciation of Shakespeare. No question, then, not only of the importance of Hamlet to world literature, nor of enjoying it personally. And on the personal level it is of course not a question of mere enjoyment, but of enrichment.

Two men, brothers in fact, and in spite of any difference in years, both of them at an age where they are more apt to appreciate a witty comedy than the heartstring-straining heights of tragedy.

(And this is not about Hamlet, which awaits another time.)

Notwithstanding a general indisposition, let us call it, to tragedy at this time of their lives...enjoying together the poignancy, and yet the light footprint, of Reign Over Me.

03 November 2013

Pour les vacances

It is a task which has been executed in two states and across an expanse of 900 miles, but I have done with the new Sibelius file of the woodwind-quintet-&-piano scoring for (c'est–à–dire, the original version of) Counting Sheep.  That process was valuable, too, as a proof of the new, "Pierrot-plus" ensemble version of the score, which (to tell the truth and shame the devil) was purt near riddled with errata and omissions.

Angling towards (at last) completing just what everyone was expecting, which has lain one minute (a scant 60 seconds) shy of done since mid-September.  However, the recent Reinhardt University Percussion Ensemble performance of Journey to the Dayspring has inspired me to get a fresh perc. ens. piece started:  My Island Home.

(Somewhere, I probably no longer have either the Finale file nor the hard copy of a start I made long ago of the piece . . . so I am reviving the title without worrying about any of that antique music.)