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The film I wrote a score for

My beautiful wife was selected from her class to be featured on the National Museum of Australia website! You can see some of her art from this year, which I cannot do justice to by describing. I may be biased, but I do enjoy all of her work. She seems to float through life, leaving a trail of stuff she has made. It’s an endless stream of creativity! I get the best deal out of everyone, because I get to live with her and be constantly surrounded by stuff she has made.

Anyway, this blog meant to be about my composition. I wrote and poorly performed the piano music at the start of her film at the bottom of that webpage. Enjoy!

What do you think of the music?

p.s. Bec’s blog is here.

1:27am

It’s 1:27am and for some reason I’m up. My least favourite personal attribute of myself at the moment is how much time I’ve spent not doing the Mozart thing, compared to how much time I’ve spent actually yes doing it. The ratio is infinity to zero. I haven’t even touched it since my promise, kind of like every other time I’ve written about stuff on this blog then not done it. Slowly this website is becoming a record of all the things I said I was going to do but didn’t: maybe I should just run with it and write heaps of other things that would be cool but I Aren’t Gonna Do.

Of course I’d love to write music so early in the morning but I’m really not in the mood. I have a christmas party tomorrow and I want to drink hot chocolate now. Ok now I have made hot chocolate. It’s soy.

Did you know snails only have one foot? Snails with one foot, underfoot, crunch. Flattened gastropods ooze spectacular wads of slime. Shoes cover themselves with newly formed bioadhesive. Sensate feet determine resistance. Well-trained ears listen, sounds of death.

Too hardcore for your own good, says me. A story:

Geoffrey and Lisa. Lisa and Geoffrey. Which way around sounds best? he thought to himself, lying on his back on top of crushed warm sheets of his unmade bed, legs protruding over the end and feet on the floor. The door was closed so nobody would disturb his obsessive train of thought. If I believe it, it can really happen, he thought, not really believing it, but repeating whatever bubbles of thought mingled into his mental viewpoint – bubbles which started far back in his subconscious, clung to each other for dear life, and carefully moved thorough the perils of his mind. By the time each thought reached the forefront, it was tangled around several other thoughts, thus causing each individual thought to materialise not in a clean fashion, but in a bundle of confusion. Everything at once. Me. Her. Beliefs. The end of the world.

A loud group of classmates stumbled past his door, drunk or drugged, severely disturbing his train of thought. Blinking, he inhaled and stood. This is awful, he thought, what am I doing? There must be some better use for my time. Indeed, there was. Even if some students felt they did not need any further study time, he certainly did. He stared at the walls of his room, tracing invisible patterns in the stucco. There were no decorations. There was nothing in this room except a sense of dread for not having understood everything he’d learned this semester.

The walls need something on them. He took the box of crayons he’d been keeping for creative purposes, pulled a fistful out and tapped them so the tips lined up. He stood on the bed, forgot inhibition, and drew a rainbow over the wall. Perhaps I should have not done that.

The End!

(unless anyone requests the rest of that story.)

I’m going to have another shot at sleeping.

Challenge: Write in the style of Mozart

I’ve been getting into Mozart recently (which makes me pretentious). My next piece will be copied from one of his pieces, except I will try to modify it beyond recognition.

It’ll probably be up within the next 2 weeks. (Deadlines are fuzzy on this blog).

My piano improvisation in F#

Improv #4 is in F#, because that’s the next note after F.

This one is slow and uneven. I am a bit out-of-it today, recovering from combination of flu, sunburn, and whatever diseases I picked up on holiday. The improv sounds how I feel, in a way. I wish that were the main reason! I think I lack focus in these improvisations, and lack the ability to effectively change chords and textures and keep listener interest.

Hey, while I was on holiday and piano-less, I read a bunch of articles about improvisation. Christian Howes wrote a great article about practising jazz improvisation for violin, but I’m going to subversively try the same techniques and routines on piano. Don’t worry, I’m not going to record myself practising! Next improv will still happen as usual, except I will have practised improvising first.

I wrote a film score

I have been busy. In addition to changing my blog theme, and not recording improvised piano pieces, I have been writing a film score. My wife’s film, which originally used a terribly copyrighted piece of piano music, now contains the first 70 seconds of music I have ever been commissioned to write. It plays in the background of the film, hopefully remaining unnoticed by its audience. Of course, I notice because it contains two whole mistakes, and because I wrote it.

I am pleased to say I invented and employed a very clever trick, where I stay in the same key for the first 60 seconds, then in the last 10 I make out like it will modulate to another key, then… voila! The music is cut, leaving the audience to imagine that there were many more wonderful things to come later in the piece, not having a clue that they had in fact heard the entire score. As a composer, this makes me feel fraudulent, deceptive, and deceitful. Actually, I like the music and it could really go places; so I’ve written a few more ideas down and will elaborate on it to make a more complete piece.

Hopefully the video will end up on the internet for all to enjoy, then I’ll link to it. Otherwise I’ll keep churning away at making it longer and trying to remember to record more improvs.

Improvs in F and C

Improvs #2 and #3 are contained herein. I actually did these out of self-imposed guilt of not uploading one every 3 days. It is weird, I was walking home this afternoon and just started imagining up some chopin-esque tunes. (Disclaimer: This is not what I uploaded!!!!!!!) Then I started to play them on the piano, and played something completely different as improv. Then I hated that, so I improvved something even more completely different-er.

Here’s my favourite first (even though I recorded it second):

I liked the part where it went from white notes to black notes. I also like how it changes a lot, instead of just changing gradually. Things that I learned from this are:

  1. I can improv on the white notes much better than any scales with black notes. Not racist.
  2. I can improv with my right hand much better than my left.
  3. Why don’t I steal my own ideas, since it’s frowned-upon to steal others’? I never remember to look through my own enormous catalogue of enjoyable snippets.
  4. It’s better if I play something really awful to start with, then throw it away and immediately improve (or just improv) on it.

Speaking of which, here’s the improv in F (Disclaimer: I did not save the best improv till last. This one improv worse than the improv at the top of the page. It is not a better improv.) Hope you enjoy it as much as I didn’t!

p.s. IMPROV

Improvisation in G minor

First piece is up!

New features include:

  • It is actually 20 minutes long. I did this either so that only the most faithful of my followers would listen, or because I forgot that I was recording (which one could it be?)
  • It is in G minor, decided after I started based on which notes I was hitting.
  • It starts out differently to how it ends, but apparently the tempo doesn’t change.
  • At the end I did something I’ve never done in an improv before, which is the quiet low chords with a melody over the top.
  • It has Very Forgettable Melodies.
  • It wanders a without much direction.
  • I use ‘jazz’ sounding chords to work around the fact that I don’t actually know what I’m playing.
  • Once I start listening I find it hard to stop because I want to know where it goes, regardless of the last 3 points.

The ‘jazz chords’ issue is a big one, and will be my focus for the next recording (which is meant to be up by today but not likely).