And here is the final piece in my (likely first) set of Miniatures, Miniature VIII (Carillon). As mentioned in a previous post, I said that I had a loose plan for the overall arc of the eight Miniatures, with the intention of ending with something big. With that, I actually this second or third, fairly early in the process. What I find interesting about the generation of these eight pieces is that this was perhaps when I started moving slightly towards a Vierne aesthetic with meaning to. With those earlier posts, I mentioned the incorporation of certain chromatic elements typical of Vierne and it happens right in the middle of the piece. Unintentional it may be, but this was the source/part of the source of the Vierne-ness of some movements. Also, it’s a carillon and yeah, hard not to throw a little hommage to Vierne’s phenominal carillon piece.
Keep an eye out for a complete packaged version of all the Miniatures!
Miniature VII (Tremolo Chorale) is now up and available! To be transparent about the process of giving out free music, this is the penultimate piece in the first set of Miniatures. The original plan was to do eight of them and had picked out a title/form for most of them. The titles were certainly not always used and adapted as freely as I felt – the Minuet turned into the Moto Minimalismo Minuetto.
This piece, on the other hand, was one of the few that retained its title as originally conceived. BUT, and this is big, it is a second version that was only revised last week. Not even revised, it’s pretty much a new piece. The only elements that remain from the original composition are structural, namely, the back and forth of the tremolo and chorale. The original was much more straight forward and certainly easier to play.
I want these pieces to be quite distinguishable from the Organbook pieces, which are generally simpler in aesthetic and execution. Not that one is better than the other, just different. If I am going to write another set of pieces for mostly manuals, I need a creative reason. Check out Carsom Cooman‘s Youtube channel if you would like to hear some of the Organbook pieces. His performances are exquisite!
Miniature VI (Borbottio) is now up on Youtube and ready to be downloaded! If you have ever followed any of my improvisations on this blog, you may have some notion of what it sounds like when I do. Particularly the festive toccatas and what not. What you don’t know is that I often mumble while doing so – usually the theme when it enters. The subtitle to the piece is, well, Italian for mumble. I’ve had fun with the titles of these miniatures! It’s a fast, ruckus piece and I do suggest having fun with the “Pedal ad libitum.” Check out how I did it:
Happy Halloween! My kids are in bed, the festivities are done, and I have a moment to release the next Miniature. This fifth Miniature, subtitled “Moto Minimalismo Minuetto,” clearly contains an influence from the minimalist aesthetic. Every once in a while, as with the previous Hommage to Vierne, I feel the need to briefly explore something that I haven’t before. My general problem with much of the Minimalist repertoire is it is often too long-winded for my taste. I tried to balance my need for change without changing too much, adding a little at a time in a minimalist manner. It was an interesting exercise that I think produces some nice results – and don’t forget, you can get the score here!
Earlier this year, Pittsburgh was host to the American Guild of Organists Regional Convention. As a part of the promotional efforts, I was featured as on the Pittsburgh AGO’s Youtube channel, along with some other excellent local organists. Along with an interview, posted below, we also recorded the organ and I used Hyfrydol as my theme. It’s a pretty fun improvisation and shows off a little of what the organ can do. Warning: it was the summer and the organ was not in the best tuning at the time. The final chord is a little rough, but go big or go home.
Without further ado, here are the third and fourth Miniatures. Miniature III (Scherzoso) is actually a second version, not the original that I had composed. Every once in a while, I will finish a piece and play it later and have a strong feeling that the piece doesn’t work. That happened in this piece. Usually, this will happen in the compositional process and figure out a new path or start over. I stuck with the Scherzoso subtitle and this much better piece was produced.
The second piece, Miniature IV (Andante Cromatica: Hommage á Louis Vierne), was built from ideas in Miniature II; namely the chromatic movement in the intermittent chordal sections. I think the Vierne reference is subtle in Miniature II, but Miniature IV waves that reference proudly. The 24 Pieces in Free Style (24 Pièces en style libre) have been an obvious influence for me – I even have my own Organbook with pieces in the 24 keys. There are a few hommages there as well, but not one to Vierne. It was time to do so!
I had been hoping to produce the Miniatures about once a week, but the start of the school year has made that a little trickier than I expected. That is a great excuse to present something from the CD that my church choir recorded a few years ago, namely a lengthy improvisation. If any of the other improvisations are an indication, I am rarely afforded the opportunity to improvise at length during the liturgies due to the relative shortness of the offertories and communions. (I suppose I could go longer with the Prelude or Postlude, but most often forget to record those.) Here, on a CD, I was able to spend the “right” amount of time to flesh out my ideas. I also wore my French influences on my sleave more than usual – Alain, Duruflé, Langlais, and Messiaen. Perhaps, one of these days, I’ll record an improvisation outside of the liturgy to express some of the other ideas I like exploring that are less appropriate to the liturgical setting. I have been spending a lot of time studying the spectral movement and that certainly has influenced my improvisations and compositions. In the mean time, enjoy, and happy Labor Day Weekend!
PS: I recommend headphones for this one – it’s a relatively quiet improvisation.