Blog

AUDIO: Music For Prepared Guitar

I wrote Music For Prepared Guitar in 2008 as a response to all of the prepared piano music of Cage I was listening to at the time. I was in the second half of my freshman year as a composition student at SUNY Purchase, studying under Suzanne Farrin. At that point, I’d been playing guitar for six years, but I’d never once put anything on the strings of my guitar. I can remember the possibility of this development exciting me, so I wrote this short, quiet piece for my prepared guitar.

Inexplicably, I never wrote another piece for the instrument, prepared, again. The piece uses paper clips, which are prone to movement and falling off, thus magnifying the need to play quietly and delicately. Maneuvering on the strings between all the paperclips can be difficult too; any brush of the paper clip can send it flying of or into the guitar itself. The chart for the preparations looks silly too. It involves measuring the strings and calculating the paper clips exact placement, which will be infinitesimally different in length from the bridge on every guitar. (The need for such a conversation chart was itself a response to the lack of such a chart in Cage’s works, which can result is wildly different-sounding pianos, and my need for exactitude.)

I haven’t played the piece since 2008. So, when I found the score while cleaning my music cabinet, I thought it might be a good idea to make a recording, if only for posterity.

One12

I purchased the score for John Cage’s One12 several years ago, when I was living in New York City. It has sat in my filing cabinet of scores and every now and then I’d thought about working on it, although the task seemed too daunting. All those numbers, 640 in total. And then actually performing it, it must take forever, right?

I don’t know what changed, and I don’t know what made me think of of the piece (maybe it’s because I’ve been voraciously consuming classical recordings for the past two weeks), but I was bored last night, so I took out the score, and I set about generating the 640 numbers, setting out my camera and desk, and making a video.

This video is the only performance of One12 on YouTube, and perhaps one of the only (if not the only performance) on the internet.*

One12 is part of “Without Notations,” works collected and edited by Andras Wilheim, apparently never published. The single-page holograph indicates that the performer prepare a score consisting of 640 random numbers between 1 and 12. For each number “1”, the performer speaks an “empty” (non-substantive) word; each “12” corresponds to a “full” word (noun, adjective, etc.). For numbers “2-11”, the performer produces a phonemic sound drawn from the word for the number, e.g. “t” or “too” for 2. The performance is improvisational.

– from JohnCage.org

*For several years after I posted it in 2008, I had the only complete performance of Cage’s Aria on YouTube. YouTube is now flooded with half-hearted performances of the piece.

GRAMMY 2017 Picks

What an odd year. It was rap’s year. Well, every year seems to be rap’s year. Rap consistently breaks more new ground than any other genre. Still. Trap music prevailed, and influenced rock, pop, R&B, and dance so much so that I don’t think there’s any coming back from it. More than just rap, it was a year for Black artists. Beyoncé put out a record, so I think that’s proof enough of my statement. More than just music, it was a year for Black People, in both positive and negative ways. We could not escape day after day of news of the killings of unarmed black citizens. And we could not escape white people talking about how racist Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance was (white people will make anything racist; white people are so privileged, they feel the need to be included in oppression just so they can stake claim to more things). My picks this year reflect that. And as always, these are picks of who will win, not who I think should win.

Record of the Year (A Producer and Engineer’s Award)

“Hello” – Adele
“Formation” – Beyoncé
“7 Years” – Lukas Graham
“Work” – Rihanna Drake feat. Drake
“Stressed Out” – twenty one pilots

It was Beyoncé’s year. ‘Nuff said. The only thing that could have come close was “Hello,” and despite its ubiquity, the quality of the record itself does not compare to that of “Formation”.

***

Album Of The Year

25 – Adele
Lemonade – Beyoncé
Purpose – Justin Bieber
Views – Drake
A Sailor’s Guide To Earth – Sturgill Simpson

See above.

***

Song Of The Year (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Formation” – Beyoncé
“Hello” – Adele
“I Took A Pill In Ibiza” – Mike Posner
“Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber
“Seven” – Lukas Graham

This is a tough category. I think that the scansion problems in “Hello” should keep it out of the running. But I do think the song’s ubiquity will prop it up, even though the songwriting and instrumental accompaniment isn’t as strong as “Formation”.

***

Best New Artist

Kelsey Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance The Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak

Look, Anderson is great. What a strong debut. But Chance, although he’s not exactly new, deserves the win here for exactly that reason. He has a refined rawness that comes from having been able to cultivate his product over many years to great success. (Personally, I would have chosen Gallant to win this category, but he’s still fairly unknown.)

***

Best Pop Solo Performance

“Hello” – Adele
“Hold Up” – Beyoncé
“Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber
“Piece By Piece (Idol Version)” – Kelly Clarkson
“Dangerous Woman” – Ariana Grande

Nobody is hitting these vocals like Beyoncé. I am NOT a Stan for Beyoncé, but this was the song that made me look at her in a different light. Her vocals are effortless, whereas Adele’s are labored. Justin doesn’t do anything with his. I hate Kelly Clarkson. And Ariana’s are overproduced. Hands down: Bey.

***

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Closer” – The Chainsmokers
“7 Years” – Lukas Graham
“Work” – Rihanna feat. Drake
“Cheap Thrills” – Sia feat. Sean Paul
“Stressed Out” – twenty one pilots

This is tough because I can see reasons for all of these artists to take this award. But there’s an effortlessness in both Rihanna’s and Drake’s performances that take this track to another level. As much as I despise them, I might have almost picked twenty one pilots to take this category, were it not for my favorite shipped couple, RiRi and 6 God.

***

Best Pop Vocal Album

25 – Kelly Clarkson
Purpose – Justin Bieber
Dangerous Woman- Ariana Grande
Confident – Demi Lovato
This Is Acting – Sia

First off: Is Demi Lovato still a thing? Secondly: I’m not a huge fan of The Biebs, but he really had me bobbin’ out to a lot of his tracks, and that’s saying something.

***

Best Rock Performance

“Joe (Live from Austin City Limits)” – Alabama Shakes
“Don’t Hurt Yourself” – Beyoncé fest. Jack White
“Blackstar” – David Bowie
“The Sound of Silence (Live on Conan)” – Disturbed
“Heathens” – twenty one pilots

It is strange to see Beyoncé nominated in this category, but she and Jack White knocked it out of the park on this song. That same effortlessness I spoke about earlier is apparent on almost every track on Lemonade, this song being no exception. Bisturbed’s cover of the classic Simon and Garfunkel song tries so hard to be something important and it fails. The same goes for “Heathens” (and every other song twenty one pilots puts out). Yes, I think a broader definition of what Rock is might been needed to give Bey the win here, but I think that’s important, right?, that we pay attention to artists and song that break boundaries and not give them awards simply because they do that, but because they do it well.

***

Best Rock Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Blackstar” – David Bowie
“Burn The Witch” – Radiohead
“Hardwired” – David Bowie
“Heathens” – twenty one pilots
“My Name Is Human” – Highly Suspect

It is ENTIRELY possible that the Academy will give this to Bowie because he died. And they probably will. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think Radiohead deserves this over everyone else. Nevertheless, here I am, giving my pick to Bowie.

***

Best Alternative Album

22, A Million – Bon Iver
Blackstar – David Bowie
The Hope Six Demolition Project – PJ Harvey
Post Pop Depression – Iggy Pop
A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

To be clear, I really dislike Bon Iver’s latest project, and I can’t say that I much care for Bon Iver at all (except when he’s singing with Francis). But, he’ll get the aware for being…I don’t even know…Bon Iver?

***

Best R&B Performance

“Turnin’ Me Up” – BJ The Chicago Kid
“Permission” – Ro James
“I Do” – Music Soulchild
“Needed Me” –  Rihanna
“Cranes In The Sky” – Solange

Ugh…Solange. Ugh. 😒

***

Best R&B Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Come And See Me” – PARTYNEXTDOOR feat. Drake
“Exchange” – Bryson Tiller
“Kiss It Better” – Rihanna
“Lake By The Ocean” – Maxwell
“Luv” – Tony Lanez

For me, this is a toss up between PARTY and Rihanna. And I’m tempted to say that Rihanna will win this. But there’s something about Drake’s influence, especially this year. If it weren’t Beyoncé’s year, it would have been Drake’s year. Also, I like to imagine a scenario where DNCE and Maxwell put out their songs on the same day and they both went: “Fuck…”.

***

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Lemonade – Beyonce
Ology – Gallant
We Are King – King
Malibu – Anderson .Paak
Anti – Rihanna

Fuck.
Do I think that Gallant’s record is better than Beyoncé’s? Yes.
Do I not understand how it’s even possible to have that many incredible songs (every song, in fact) on a debut record? Yes.
Will Beyoncé win this award? Yes.

***

Best Rap Performance

“No Problem” – Chance The Rapper, feat. Lil Wayne and 2Chainz
“Panda” – Desiigner
“Pop Style” – Drake feat. The Throne (Jay Z, Kanye West)
“All The Way Up” – Fat Joe and Remy Ma, feat. French Montana and Infared
“THat Part” – ScHoolboy Q feat. Kanye West

First: I had no idea Jay and Kanye referred to themselves as “The Throne” apart from that album. This is weird to me.
Second: This isn’t even a contest.

***

Best Rap/Sung Performance

“Freedom” – Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar
“Hotline Bling” – Drake
“Broccoli” – D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty
“Ultralight Beam” – Kanye West feat. Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and The Dream
“Famous” – Kanye West feat. Rihanna

If “Ultralight Beam”, “Famous” would have won. So…I guess the was Kanye’s category all along. And it’s not even Kanye’s verses that win this award for him, it’s Chance’s verse. Best verse of the year.

Side note: Drake doesn’t rap once on “Hotline Bling”, why is this song nominated in this category. They should have replaced it with “Freestlyle 4”.

***

Best Rap Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“All The Way Up” – Fat Joe and Remy Ma, feat. French Montana and Infared
“Famous” – Kanye West feat. Rihanna
“Hotline Bling” – Drake
“No Problem” – Chance The Rapper, feat. Lil Wayne and 2Chainz
“Ultralight Beam” – Kanye West feat. Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and The Dream

See above.
And if “Ultralight Beam” weren’t in this category, “No Problem” would win.

***

Best Rap Album

Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
And The Anonymous Nobody – De La Soul
Major Key – DJ Khaled
Views – Drake
Blank Face LP – ScHoolboy Q
The Life Of Pablo – Kanye West

I think The Life of Pablo might be a better album than Coloring Book, but I just know Chance is going to win this. And he deserves it. His first major release is one of the strongest records of the year, comparable to Lemonade, TLOP, and others.

***

I wrote this post a little too late and they already gave the award for Best Music Video to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. But we all know I would have picked this to win anyway, so I’m giving myself a point regardless.

 

AUDIO: Songbook: 2 little whos

Cleaning off the desktop on my computer, I came across this demo version of 2 little whos from my Songbook cycle of Cummings settings. Unfortunately, I didn’t enunciate very well. But the melody and the character of the piece comes though clearly.

The text reads:

2 little whos
(he and she)
under are this
wonderful tree

smiling stand
(all realms of where
and when beyond)
now and here

(far from a grown
–up i&you–
ful world of known)
who and who

(2 little ams
and over them this
aflame with dreams
incredible is)

My 2016 GRAMMY Picks

Another year, another round of GRAMMY picks. I feel like every year I say “This was rap’s year!” But seriously, this year was rap’s year. And not in terms of popularity. More than any other genre, rap brought sophistication and energy to music. Of course, we saw huge pop hits, and the usual players are nominated herein (T. Swift, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Drake). But it was a huge year for newcomers (The Weekend [not really a newcomer, just new in mainstream popularity], Fetty Wap, Charlie Puth, Meghan Trainor). If I say to say that the year belonged to one artist, however, my pick would be Kendrick Lamar. Not only was To Pimp A Butterfly a massive commercial and artistic triumph, but he appeared on several crossover recordings the (“Bad Blood” remix, and Flying Lotus’ “Never Catch Me”) and nearly tied Michael Jackson for the most GRAMMY nominees in a single year (11; Michael had 12).

Below are my picks for the winners of this year’s awards. Many of these categories found me choosing winners that I didn’t think we the best in their respective categories, but felt the Academy would choose them anyway. If there were any conflicts, they’ll be noted below each category.

So here goes…

Record of the Year (A Producer and Engineer’s Award)

Really Love – D’Angelo And The Vanguard
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars.
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Blank Space – Taylor Swift
Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd

If I can say one thing about this year’s awards, it’s that it won’t be a runaway for Taylor Swift, not like in years past. While many called 1989 a crossover success, I think the writing comes off just as bland as she’s always been.
***

Album Of The Year

Sound & Color -Alabama Shakes
To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
Traveller – Chris Stapleton
1989 – Taylor Swift
Beauty Behind The Madness – The Weeknd

The Weeknd’s album sounds like the same song 14 times. 1989 tries too hard. And the others probably aren’t on the Academy members’ radars.

***

Song Of The Year (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Alright” – Kendrick Lamar
“Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
“Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
“See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth
“Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran

If “Alright” doesn’t win, we might as well elect Trump our president because nothing will matter anymore. Seriously, I don’t understand how anything else measures up to Lamar’s manifesto

***

Best Pop Solo Performance

“Heartbeat Song” – Kelly Clarkson
“Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding
“Thinking Out Loud” – Ed Sheeran
“Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
“Can’t Feel My Face” – The Weeknd

Everyone else in this category is bland, processed, and passé. (When will Kelly call it quits?)

***

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

“Ship To Wreck” – Florence & The Machine
“Sugar” – Maroon 5
“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
“Bad Blood” – Taylor Swift Featuring Kendrick Lamar
“See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth

It was really hard for me not to give this award to Kendrick. You may note I didn’t say “Taylor and Kendrick”. That’s because Taylor doesn’t deserve anything with thing song. It’s boring. It’s trite.(“You know it used to be mad love”? Give me a break.) Kendrick’s verse is (and, god, it pains me to say this) o…kay. It’s not great. But it does make the song a hell of a lot better. And therefore, “Uptown Funk” will win its rightfully deserved award.

***

Best Pop Vocal Album

Piece By Piece – Kelly Clarkson
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence & The Machine
Uptown Special – Mark Ronson
1989 – Taylor Swift
Before This World – James Taylor

I really don’t like Taylor Swift’s music. I really really don’t like Taylor Swift’s music. In fact, I think Ryan Adam’s 1989 was a better album. But just like in years past, nothing will stop the Academy from awarding its golden child the win in this category. Close second: Uptown Special

***

Best Dance Recording(A Producer and Engineer’s Award)

“We’re All We Need” – Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston
“Go” – The Chemical Brothers feat. Q-Tip
“Never Catch Me” – Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar
“Runaway (U & I)” – Galantis
“Where Are Ü Now” – Skrillex And Diplo with Justin Bieber

Again we have Lamar putting his name on something that is unlike anything else in its category. The other nominees are all to similar, despite sounding different. They rely on the same tricks and gimmicks. “Never Catch Me” is just catchy enough, just powerful enough, just different enough to win.

***

Best R&B Performance

“If I Don’t Have You” – Tamar Braxton
“Rise Up” – Andra Day
“Breathing Underwater” – Hiatus Kaiyote
“Planes” –  Jeremih Featuring J. Cole
“Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” – The Weeknd

Damn, if I didn’t wanna pick “Breathing Underwater” to win. But it won’t. But, god, I hope it does. It’s unlike anything else in the category. And the vocals are just so tight and so smooth. But it won’t win. It’s like the Bernie Sanders of this category (and I’m a Bernie supporter). It’s too perfect to win; that’s it’s downfall.

***

Best R&B Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“Coffee” – Miguel
“Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” – The Weeknd
“Let It Burn” – Jazmine Sullivan
“Really Love” – D’Angelo And The Vanguard
“Shame” – Tyrese

Again, I find myself in a situation where I give the pick to a song that really should come in second place. I’d love for Miguel to take this one. But the playfulness of “Earned It” (“Imma care for you/’cause girl you’re perfect…/you deserve it…/’cause girl you earned it”) is too irresistible. It’s one of the few songs about sex that I’d actually play while having sex. It oozes sex (and not in a sentimental or cliché way) and it just works. And if I may, I’m going to sound like a terrible newscaster or sports writer and make the pun that when it comes to my pick, The Weeknd “earned it”. (Ew. I feel gross now.)

***

Best Urban Contemporary Album

Ego Death – The Internet
You Should Be Here – Kehlani
Blood – Lianne La Havas
Wildheart – Miguel
Beauty Behind The Madness – The Weeknd

I really fell in love with The Internet this year. And though I feel in love with Lianne La Havas a few years ago, I think her sophomore album, “Blood” (my runner up in this category), falls short of my expectations for it.

***

Best Rap Performance

“Apparently” – J. Cole
“Back To Back” – Drake
“Trap Queen” – Fetty Wap
“Alright” – Kendrick Lamar
“Truffle Butter” – Nicki Minaj feat. Drake & Lil Wayne
“All Day” – Kanye West Featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney

Hardly does Fetty Wap rap on “Trap Queen”. Disqualified. I like every other song in this list (including “Trap Queen”), but as I mentioned before, Kendrick brought a level of sophistication to To Pimp A Butterfly that no other artist in any genre did.

***

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration

“One Man Can Change The World” – Big Sean feat. Kanye West & John Legend
“Glory” – Common & John Legend
“Classic Man” – Jidenna feat. Roman GianArthur
“These Walls” – Kendrick Lamar Featuring Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat
“Only” Nicki Minaj feat. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown

***

Best Rap Song (A Songwriter’s Award)

“All Day” – Kanye West Featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney
“Alright” – Kendrick Lamar
“Energy” – Drake
“Glory” – Common & John Legend
“Trap Queen” – Fetty Wap

Re: “Energy”: it’s too low key, vocally, to win this category.
Re: “All Day”: Despite much how much I like this song, the Academy would never choose a song that said the n-word so much, I could never say it had a chance of winning. Not even in 2016.
Re: “Glory”, it’s already nominated in the Rap/Sung category.

Re: “Trap Queen”, see Best Rap Performance.

***

Best Rap Album

2014 Forest Hills Drive – J. Cole
Compton – Dr. Dre
If Youre Reading This Its Too Late – Drake
To Pimp A Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
The Pinkprint – Nicki Minaj<

This is the strongest category in the entire gamut. I think the only album that comes close to TPAB is 2014 Forest Hills Drive. But even that isn’t a close second. We’re talking about the entire black experience compiled into a 79 minute recording. And it isn’t just because of the historical significance that I chose this record to win. The musical sophistication is unmatched here. And this just isn’t the forum to get into why TPAB is so great. Maybe I’ll write about that in a later post.<

***

Best Musical Theater Album

An American In Paris
Fun Home
Hamilton
The King And I
Something Rotten!

If anything is going to beat Hamilton, it’s Fun Home.

***

Best Song Written for Visual Media

“Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)” – The Weeknd
“Glory” – Common & John Legend
“Love Me Like You Do” – Ellie Goulding
“See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth
“Til It Happens To You” – Lady Gaga

I’m gonna make some controversial statements. No one would care about “Glory” if Common and John Legend didn’t sing it. No one would care about “See You Again” if Paul Walker didn’t die. “Love Me Like You Do” is the the most noncommittal love song ever. And Lady Gaga sounds ill.

***

Best Contemporary Classical Composition

Gerald Barry: The Importance Of Being Earnest
Andrew Norman: Play
Stephen Paulus: Prayers & Remembrances
Joan Tower: Stroke
Julia Wolfe: Anthracite Fields

I can’t believe it, a comedic opera that actually made me laugh.

***

And that’s it! What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my picks!

2015: 100 Poems

Another year, another 100 vocal works.

1) two brass buttons
2) maybe god
3) what is a voyage?
4) first robin the;
5) Songbook: I’m very fond of black bean soup
6) Songbook: kumrads die because they’re told
7) Songbook: open his head, baby
8) Songbook: maggie and milly and molly and may
9) Songbook: O the sun comes up-up-up in the opening
10) i go to this window
11) Songbook: mary green
12) Songbook: o purple finch
13) Songbook: devil crept in eden wood
14) Songbook: red-rag and pink-flag
15) Sapphics
16) Summer Silence
17) A Girl’s Ring
18) What is thy mouth to me?
19) Songbook: “though your sorrows not
20) Songbook: mr youse needn’t be so spry
21) Songbook: If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
22) how
23) wanta
24) christ but they’re few
25) Diptych
26) because it’s Spring
27) Songbook: “summer is over
28) f
29) my specialty is living said
30) Songbook: jake hates
31) Elegy: being
32) Songbook: 2 little whos
33) chas sing does(who
34) life hurl my
35) logeorge
36) On this street
37) Impressions: i.
38) Impressions: ii.
39) Impressions: iii.
40) Impressions: iv.
41) Impressions: v.
42) Impressions: vi.
43) Impressions: vii.
44) nor woman
45) hair your a brook
46) Songbook: a pretty a day
47) Impressions: viii.
48) nonsun blob a
49) (once like a spark)
50) Songbook: when life is quite through with
51) her
52) when god decided to invent
53) “daughter” uv eve
54) XX
55) trees were in(give
56) once White&Gold
57) i was sitting in mcsorley’s
58) i will be
59) raise the shade
60) Songbook: yes is a pleasant country
61) hist wist
62) why from this her and him
63) Songbook: in time of daffodils(who know
64) Four Women
65) Songbook: my uncle
66) you notice
67) the moon is hiding in
68) Thanksgiving (1956)
69) i shall imagine life
70) ta
71) up into the silence the green
72) float
73) Songbook: of evident invisibles
74) moan
75) Songbook: that famous fatheads find that each
76) in making Marjorie god hurried
77) (beLls?
78) “think of it:not so long ago
79) bud
80) helves
81) only this darkness
82) lucky means
83-85) Three Songs of Winter
86) Songbook: Ad Huc Sub Indice Lis
87) nine birds(rising
88) Lord John Unalive
89) Wing Wong
90) You shall sing my songs, O earth.
91) MARIANNE MOORE
92) you are not going to,dear/this fear is no longer dear
93) yonder deadfromtheneckup graduate of a
94) neither could say
95) my mind is
96) Item
97) Songbook: Dedication
98) mr. smith
99) Songbook: Where’s Madge then,
100) joys faces friends

Also: e ([p.788, Complete Poems] which was written not remembering the poem had already been set in 2014).

VIDEO: Graphic Scores #6-14

This video is taken from the May 12, 2015 performance of Graphic Scores #6-14. The performance took place at my alma mater, Schenectady High School during the 10th annual Composers’ Forum. The Forum was started by me and my friend Lecco Morris at the end of our junior year of high school—2006—because we’re both composers of classical music and there wasn’t a place for us to have our work performed. That first concert was organized solely by the two of us. We packed the Black Box Theatre at SHS, over 100 seats, and put on a 90+ minute concert. It was quite a success. Lecco and I graduated in 2007, and after that the Forum was taken over by a teacher, Dave Gleason, who, aside from being a teacher, is one of the best latin jazz pianists I’ve ever heard. This is the excerpt taken from the back of this year’s program:

The John Sayles School of Fine Arts Composers’ Forum was founded in 2006 by two Schenectady High School students, Justin Friello and Lecco Morris. They designed it as an expressive outlet for the many musical pieces composed each year by students. Since its inception, it has grown to include a variety of composers, performers, musical styles and types of compositions. It is now presented in conjunction with Schenectady High School’s Music Theory, Advanced Music Theory, and I.B. Music classes, where students study composition among other topics.

For the 10th year, Gleason wanted to bring back alumni to write and perform work alongside current SHS students. I also acted as alumni liaison, coordinating the program and communication between students and performers. Additionally, I, along with 7 other people, performed 9 of my Graphic Scores simultaneously. This performance was a continuation of a performance given of the simultaneous premieres of Graphic Scores #1-5 at the 2007 Composers’ Forum. This year’s performance was captured through cell phone video, and is presented to you here.

To learn about all the Graphic Scores featured in this performance, click on the links below:

Graphic Score #6
Graphic Score #7
Graphic Score #8
Graphic Score #9
Graphic Score #10
Graphic Score #11
Graphic Score #12
Graphic Score #13
Graphic Score #14

Mother’s Day

I wrote a song for my mother eleven years ago called “Lay Me Down”. It remains one of my favorite songs lyrically, and I continue to perform it in concert. And despite having written it when I was 14, I think there’s a surprising amount of self-awareness and genuine filial sentiment without any of the naïve clichés you’d expect to hear from a young songwriter.

On this Mother’s Day, I would like to dedicate “Lay Me Down” to my mother once again.

The recording featured here comes from my 2010 solo concert in the GE Theatre at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, NY. This recording has not been heard by anyone before.

AUDIO: Composition With Red, Yellow And Blue, 1927

While cleaning out my old bedroom in my mother’s house, she came across a file folder full of papers and juvenilia. Also in this folder was a CD, a recording of a 2008 composition recital I gave while I was a student at the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College. This recital, not required of me, was put on to showcase pieces I’d written outside of my work at the college, pieces of which my professors were unaware had been written, which made them even more exciting to showcase. I’d thought I’d lost this CD, which was unfortunate because on it exists the recording of the piece I’m highlighting today, which would have otherwise been lost.

Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1927