Some sketches

Here are two recent sketches, one is #5 I believe. The other is con moto.

allegro con moto – Score

Lento2- Score



Here are some short works I’ve composed recently. In the tradition of Bartok, Sessions, Schuman, Mompou…( all of whom composed very short piano works that I admire), these are works between 25- 60 measures.  In these, one can hear some of my techniques and rhythms. I have added a chorale and invention making this series 5 pieces so far. The problem with contapuntal forms is that someone might compare my work with the traditional Bach-style. I am employing the classic  two-part invention texture with a subject and CS, but it is too rambunctious for Baroque counterpoint. I throw in some modern polytonality to remind the listener that these works are borrowing the texture of the two-part, not the harmonic content. It ends with a modal two-part coda.SS 1 – Score


The 20th Chamber Symphony

In the past week, I’ve been composing another chamber symphony. Some have asked why I write orchestral works when the potential for an actual performance (professional quality ) is remote. I can only respond that a big part of my composer- self comes out when I have a larger collections of sound and colour. I tend to be violent and whimsical in much of my wind music; my piano music can be expressive but it simply can’t sing the way an orchestra can. Also, with the modern tech available it’s very satisfying to hear the music without the agonizing process of guiding an orchestra through rehearsals…

Of course I would love more performances, but I’ve got 21 piano Sonatas and  dozens of chamber works that only require an eager player or five…


this score is the 3rd movement.


Ch Sinf 20 3rd – Score


The 21st Piano Sonata

This is a work I just completed this evening. I began with the 2nd movement and spent all night composing. I chose to have a motive that is a leap up a fourth followed by three descending steps( 2, 9, 7, 5, 4) Also there is a slow triplet descent in thick chords. The 2nd movement has a tonal collection that slips in and out of various tonalities, but for the most part, Bb is the home key. My goal was to make the slow mov. more interesting than its first incarnation, and to do that I needed to speed it up a bit and add a more prominent rhythmic pulse.

The opening mov.  often has a simple texture of arpeggiated 16ths in the left, and the melodies in the right. The first 8 bars presents the motivic material that fuels the work as it progresses. It resembles the Hindemith 4th Sonata in that sense. Near the end, I foreshadow the next movement with a slower lyrical section. It is something of a release from the heavy chromaticism of the first 70 measures. It is one of the only breaks from the 16th-note composite rhythm.

The finale is presto and Bartokian in in its rhythmic thrust. There is a frantic buildup that I find exciting; unfortunately, many listeners don’t care for such aggressive music. To me it’s a more sophisticated form of hard-rock, with the intent of overwhelming the listener with the power and controlled chaos of a machine gun.

Since I compose so quickly, I’m constantly revising my new works, but here it stands as of 5/18/18:

son 21 – ScoreSonata 21,middle movement not included…1st of 21 – Score

To listen:

Here is piano sonata 21…

I’ve completed the 2nd and 3rd movements. The 1st comes last, which is fine. Opining movements are often difficult for composers. The thematic material and overall syntax of the work must be defined. After composing two other movements, I know all about my theme groups since I’ve been living in them.

I call this the “Mystic Sonata” because the tonality changes so often. The three-note motif pervades the 2nd movement. The third movement is borderline savage, with its low-fast passages and driving rhythm. I explored the lower tessitura on my last work, the “Four Temperaments Variations” for piano, flute and clarinet. I will also post the score of the fast movement.


son 21 – Score

The Four Temperaments

Composing this was an all-nighter.  Initially, this was to be less tonal, and as such, would have borne more compositional fruit. But after the theme and Var. 1, I didn’t want to veer too far from the tonal center.  I wanted this to be a 7 minute work, so I didn’t have time to let the contents “organically” arise. This creates the risk of abrupt changes between variations, which I did my best to avoid but couldn’t help myself is a couple of places. Sometimes the shift is exciting; I hope that’s the case. This is only my 3rd work of variations, so I’ll get more comfortable. There is some nice music in there!

var2 – Score

Piano Sonata 4 (Neoclassic)

My first 5 Piano Sonatas are neoclassic in nature. I was enamoured of the sonatas of Sessions, Copland and Carter in grad school and as a composer, began with a similar sound and format.

This sonata (I’ve included 2 movements) was composed a few years ago and I find it distinctive for its lyrical slow movement.


Composing for String Quintet

With very few exceptions, composers of the 20th C. composed for the string quartet. Many of these pieces are masterworks and composers are often more expressive with this idiom than just about anything else. Unfortunately, quartets must battle with one-another for space on a program. Since there is such an embarrassment of riches in the literature (Bartok, Carter, Barber, Ravel, Milhaud, Rautaavera, Schoenberg……) there are not enough players do do every composer justice. It is probable that in the 21st C. the popularity of the quartet will wane; quartets are often more demanding on the listener than, say, a sonata or symphonic work.

As a composer, I have five numbered quartets and that’s after I, long ago, made a resolution not to compose quartets!  But….I enjoy composing for the string quintet, as the extra cello opens up a much deeper sound palate. Recently, I composed these short works for string quintet. It is to be a set of 5 or 6 pieces. Each depicts an image of sorts: A pond, a playground and a particular cove on one of the Channel Islands in California. Of course the mood these things elicit in me is what I try to capture. These are freshly minted this week.


Piano Quintet 2 Op. 134

This morning, I’ve been revisiting my 2nd Piano Quintet. The score posted is from the final movement, and resembles the 20th Piano Sonata 2nd movement in its alternation between chorale and scherzo-like passages. Though I like unity in my work, I also create an element of unpredictability whenever possible. Hopefully, the score is adjustable for size…I’m still new to this posting process.


Piano Quintet 2 – Score